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.

 

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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