STUCK IN DIVORCE COURT? HERE IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO CUT COSTS AND AGGRAVATION!

Are you in divorce litigation?

Are you having second thoughts – time standards, discovery cost, no trial in sight? Enough!

You have complained to your attorney and your attorney reports that your spouse’s attorney has heard the same complaints from your spouse.  Your attorney suggests mediation or conciliation.

What is the difference between Divorce Mediation and Divorce Conciliation?

Mediation is an independent, voluntary, confidential process conducted by a mediator, who is neutral. The mediator will:

  • Assist you and your spouse in identifying and discussing those issues keeping the two of you from settlement.
  • Explore with you and your spouse various avenues to resolution.
  • Develop a settlement acceptable to you and your spouse.

The two of you will select the mediator. The mediator’s fees will be split between the two of you or paid as the two of you agree.

The major benefits to Mediation are:

  • The mediation is private. There is no report to the Judge.
  • The mediator will provide all the time you and your spouse need to work on a resolution.
  • Experienced mediators have settlement rates of between 85% and 97%.
  • If the mediation is in the 3-15% that fail, you and your spouse may enter a written agreement (stipulation) stating that all that was agreed to in the mediation shall not be litigated at trial.

The major negatives to Mediation are:

  • The Mediator is paid.
  • If the mediation is in the 3-15% that fail, the parties will have to return to the litigation process for the unresolved issues.
  • Since you are in litigation, you must get permission from the judge to “take a time out” for mediation. Your attorney will handle this.

Conciliation is a court related process in which a court appointed neutral (the Conciliator) assists parties to resolve their case by:

  1. Clarifying the issues preventing a settlement; and then
  2. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s arguments; and
  3. If the divorce cannot be resolved, then the Conciliator explores the steps which remain to prepare the case for trial.

The Court usually allocates two hours for the Conciliation session. The Conciliator is not paid, but there is an administration fee, currently $50.00 per party.

The major benefits to Conciliation are:

  • The trained Conciliator will assess your “side” and your spouse’s “side”. You will then be able to consider the assessment in planning your next step, e.g., trial or settlement.
  • The Conciliator does not get paid.

The major negatives to Conciliation are:

  • The Conciliation lasts a short time, contrasted to Divorce Mediation.
  • The Conciliator may report her/his assessment to the Judge and any opinion as to whether someone is not acting in good faith.

What should you do?

Statistically, 97% of divorce litigation will settle within days of the trial. That means, even though you and your spouse each paid an enormous amount of money to get ready for trial, it may never happen (97% of the time).

The sensible thing is to avoid more costs now, stop the litigation, and settle your differences in mediation or arbitration.

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Need a Lawyer Referral?

DO I KNOW A GOOD LAWYER WHO DOES INTER GALACTIC SPACE LAW?

Actually, I don’t; but if you needed one, I would make the effort to find one for you.

Besides providing arbitration, mediation and collaborative representation, I am a Primary Care Attorney who will refer you to the experienced lawyer you need.

After receiving a request for an elder care planning attorney, I was happy to refer the family to a trusted elder care and trust lawyer.

I received a “thank you” from the family I referred to the elder care planning and trust attorney. The “thank you” note described the attorney as:

“… lovely, very kind and down to earth.  Everyone in my family said how [she was] nice, kind and totally explained things to us.  Again thank you, thank you, thank you.” 

I love receiving positive feedback.

My network of experienced, respected attorneys is available for you.

Email or call me when you need a referral.  I’d be pleased to match you up.

© 2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Divorce Arbitration is the Way to Go! So……

A decision of our Appeals Court, Gravlin v. Gravlin, is helpful for those facing divorce.

For collaborative divorce attorneys and divorce mediators, the decision confirms that arbitration is the viable alternative to court litigation for resolving a single issue or even taking the place of a full court trial.

In Gravlin, the Appeals Court acknowledged “… arbitration has long been recognized as a valid means of resolving disputes between divorcing parties.” This Blog has often praised the value of arbitration as an alternative to divorce litigation; with Gravlin, the Appeals Court stamped an imprimatur of sorts on divorce arbitration.

While arbitration is available to replace a public court trial, it is also available if collaboration or mediation reaches a deadlock (a stalemate on one or two remaining issues); then, it is time for divorce arbitration.

When parties follow a simple process, the Appeals Court promises a “… strict standard of review [that] is high[ly] deferential…” to an arbitration award.

What does the simple process involve? The simple process requires that:

  • Respective counsel advise each party.
  • Parties freely enter an Agreement to Arbitrate.
  • Parties knowingly waive a court trial and submit to arbitration.

If there is any trial court review of an arbitration award, the review will be limited to determining:

  • The arbitrator’s award was confined to what he/she was asked to decide;
  • The award did not give relief that is prohibited by law;
  • The award is not based on fraud, arbitrary conduct, or procedural irregularity in the hearing.

(In my experience, the selection of an experienced, knowledgeable arbitrator will result in a positive review and enforcement of the award.)

For collaborative attorneys and mediators, Gravlin is another reason to recommend arbitration for settlement stalemate.

For parties facing divorce or divorce stalemate, arbitration is an alternative to a costly, lengthy and publicly litigated trial.

*Anthony is a divorce arbitrator, collaborative attorney and divorce mediator. His office is in Salem.

© 2016 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

How to Save Real Money in a Divorce

By: Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Arbitrator, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney ©2018

In every divorce there are non-law issues. Some are as basic as “Who gets the college chest”? or as complicated as “Where will the children primarily live”?

Attorneys and smart parties are now using professional neutrals (also called coaches) to resolve those issues that are not distinctively legal in nature.

A Financial Neutral expedites the process by analyzing the unique needs of your family, identifying tax provisions related to those needs and creating realistic plans to preserve family income and property.

The Facilitator Neutral expedites the process by helping you and your spouse precisely identify short and long-term goals.

Most experienced attorneys can do all that the neutrals do.  But, they do it at their regular rates.

Experienced divorce attorneys charge between $350.00 an hour to $450.00 an hour. Some charge more; some less. The important point is that the hourly fee of your attorney is the same whether your attorney is working on the “separation agreement”, a legal document, or who gets the college chest – a distinctively non-legal issue.

Experienced neutrals charge between $175.00 and $250.00 per hour.

Who can use Neutrals?  Parties in contested divorces are already using neutrals to do real estate or business appraisals. So why not other neutrals?  Parties trying to “work it out” on their own can really benefit from neutrals. The Collaborative Divorce Process  already uses neutrals.

Ginny Simon and Linda Cohan are Facilitator Neutrals. Diane Pappas is a Financial Neutral. The fees of these neutrals follow within the range described above. All three are experienced mediators – a plus.

 

HELP OTHERS TO KNOW You are invited to post this article on your web site, blog or social media.

 

CONSIDERING DIVORCE? THE DECISION…

People often wait until “after the holidays” to make the Decision to Divorce.  Since it is such an important Decision, I have put together this post on important considerations.

The Holiday Season is often followed by the decision to divorce – The Decision.

Deciding to divorce is not easy.  Yet, in Massachusetts, the Decision to do so is made in about 50% of marriages.

For couples with young children, the Decision must consider the young children.  Young children are those who have not graduated from high school.  Often unknown, or unappreciated, the Decision has an indelible and devastating effect on young children.

Divorce is often seen as the death of a child’s family, at least as the child has known the family.  This death can result in outcomes including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So, it is an important decision with important ramifications.

In the lives of young children, no decision of their parents can have a more negative effect than the decision to divorce. An, that is exactly the reason couples should take a few extra steps before the Decision.

First, talk alone about the Decision.  “But, we can’t talk! That’s why we’re divorcing!”   Well listen, if your child was lying in an emergency room and the two of you had to talk and make a decision, would you talk and make the decision?  If your answer is “Of course”, well, in your child’s life, this is just as important.

Talk!
Talk about:
-Is divorce the only choice?
-Is divorce the only answer?
-Is divorce necessary now, while the children are young?

If you cannot talk, then talk with a professional. Yes, it is that important in the lives of your children. Also, if the first professional “just isn’t right,” try another, and another.

If you have done all you can to keep the family “alive” and, still, divorce is necessary, then you have probably done all that you can.

 

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

Supreme Judicial Court Says Wife Does Not Get More Alimony Just Because Husband’s Income Goes Up

By:  Attorney Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Law practitioner. ©2017

In a September 25th decision, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) affirmed an often misunderstood legal tenet i.e., just because the alimony paying ex-spouse starts making more money, the receiving ex-spouse does not automatically get an increase in alimony.

In the year before he filed for divorce, the husband earned over seven million dollars a year. The couple lived a lavish lifestyle where they spent “tens of thousands of dollars on articles of clothing and handbags“. The trial judge found, at trial that the husband’s income was “on an upward trajectory” and that during the marriage the couple’s expenses had increased as the husband’s income increased.

After trial, the judge ruled that since the husband’s income was “on an upward trajectory”, the wife could only maintain her standard of living “consistent with the marital lifestyle …” by giving the wife 33% of his future gross income. The wife then, was to share in the husband’s future income – the more for him; the more for her.

The SJC overturned the judge’s Judgment and found that

the most the husband should pay, if he has the ability to pay, is “the amount required to enable …[the wife] to maintain the standard of living she had at the time of the separation leading to the divorce, not the amount required to enable her to maintain the standard of living she would have had in the future if the couple had not divorced.”

          Simply put, where the high income couple facing divorce can maintain the lifestyle they had during the last days of the marriage on the husband’s income, the husband will not be ordered to pay more alimony than what the wife needs to maintain her lifestyle at the time of separation. (Want to read the case for yourself? Go to: http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/sjc/reporter-of-decisions/new-opinions/12240.pdf ).

DIVORCE WORKSHOP: Take the Next Step and Untie the Knot


Getting Divorced? This half-day workshop on taking the next step toward untying the knot will cover the legal, financial, family and personal issues that are often encountered during the divorce process.

  • How do I get divorced and where do I start?
  • Is Mediation better and less expensive than Litigation?
  • Will I get or have to pay Child Support and Alimony?
  • What are Marital assets and how are they split? What about an Inheritance?
  • Will our children be okay? How do we tell them?

Our experienced, volunteer Family Law Attorneys, Divorce Coach and Divorce Financial Analyst will provide the knowledge and information you need to empower you through the divorce process with confidence and peace of mind.  The more you know, the better the outcome.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS – COME LEARN WHAT THEY ARE

September 9th –  9:00 am – 12:30 pm

The Barn at 10 Liberty Street, Danvers, MA – Exit 22 on 128

Cost $30 – Includes a 36-page Divorce Handbook

Pastries, muffins and coffee will be served
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The Divorce Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to make divorce more civilized and less traumatic for everyone involved, especially the children.

For more information and to register, please visit www.TheDivorceCenter.org

NEW CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES BRING CHANGE TO PAYING FOR COLLEGE EXPENSES

The new Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines) include a new section to deal exclusively with college or other post-secondary educational expenses.

While the Guidelines officially go into effect on September 15th, they are already being used by attorneys, mediators and others.

At the outset, the Guidelines remind litigants that the divorce judge has discretion to order or not order a parent to contribute to college costs. In other words, it is not a given that a parent will be ordered to pay for all or part of college expenses.

The real change to existing support procedures is two-fold. First, the Guidelines establish of a maximum contribution to which a parent can be subject. Second, should the court determine a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount, the court must enter written findings supporting the determination.

Specifically, the Guidelines say:

“No parent shall be ordered to pay an amount in excess of fifty percent of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, unless the Court enters written findings that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount.”

The new limit will not apply to children already enrolled in college.

New Child Support Guidelines Pay Lower Support With More Parenting Time – No More

By:  Anthony C. Adamopoulos

The current “old” Child Support Guidelines provided a separate child support calculation where, for example, the father shared “financial responsibility and parenting time” of greater than one-third but less than fifty percent of the time.

This usually meant that if, for example, the father was with his children more than one- third of their time he was going to pay less child support than the father who is with his children about a third of the time. This adjustment is dropped under the new Guidelines announced on July 18th and formally effective on September 15, 2017.

While the formal effective date is not until September, experienced divorce attorneys, mediators and arbitrators have started using the new Guidelines.

 

DIVORCE WORKSHOP – Take the Next Step and Untie the Knot

knot

Getting Divorced? This half-day workshop on taking the next step toward untying the knot will cover the legal, financial, family and personal issues that are often encountered during the divorce process.

  • How do I get divorced and where do I start?
  • Is Mediation better and less expensive than Litigation?
  • Will I get or have to pay Child Support and Alimony?
  • What are Marital assets and how are they split? What about an Inheritance?
  • Will our children be okay? How do we tell them?

Our experienced, volunteer Family Law Attorneys, Divorce Coach and Divorce Financial Analyst will provide the knowledge and information you need to empower you through the divorce process with confidence and peace of mind.  The more you know, the better the outcome.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS – COME LEARN WHAT THEY ARE

March 11th –  9:00 am – 12:30 pm

The Barn at 10 Liberty Street, Danvers, MA – Exit 22 on 128

Cost $30 – Includes a 36-page Divorce Handbook

Pastries, muffins and coffee will be served
—————————————————————

The Divorce Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to make divorce more civilized and less traumatic for everyone involved, especially the children.

For more information and to register, please visit www.TheDivorceCenter.org