If We Agree on Everything, How Long Does it Take to Get Through Divorce Mediation?

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Lawyer

 

Not very long at all.

Here is the process:

  1. Make an appointment for you and your spouse through my office. You can usually get an appointment within a week.

At the first session, about two hours, I will learn what agreements, you and your spouse have come to on the children, on support and on how the property will be divided. Assuming the financial statement, you were asked to bring with you, is in order, I then go to the next step.

  1. I will then prepare a draft Separation Agreement based upon what you and your spouse agreed to at our first meeting. The turn-around time for this is about a week.
  2. You review the Separation Agreement draft which I will send to you. You decide how long to review it.
  3. We then then talk on the phone or via email about any changes you want. This shouldn’t take more than a day or two to schedule.
  4. If necessary, I revise the draft Separation Agreement. (This takes about 30 minutes.)
  5. We then meet to answer any questions about the Separation Agreement; and, if you and your spouse are ready, you sign the Agreement. This is usually a one-hour meeting.

In short, after two meetings you can have a Separation Agreement that is ready to bring to court for a judge’s review.

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

FACING DIVORCE AND CANNOT AFFORD A DIVORCE LAWYER…

…USE LARLIMITED ASSISTANCE REPRESENTATION

LAR lets you hire a specially trained and qualified LAR attorney to help with some of what you must do if you represent yourself, pro se.

You Can Hire an LAR lawyer:

  • to go to court with you just one time, or as many times as you want;
  • to write an Answer, Motion or Pre-Trial Conference Memo;
  • to explain things you do not understand;
  • to help you prepare your Financial Statement.

LAR lets you buy from an LAR lawyer simple fill in the blank forms:

  • Motions for Child Support
  • Motions for Child Custody
  • Answers to Complaints
  • Many More

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES

  FULL LAR SERVICES

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce Through Mediation?

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Lawyer

The time it takes to get “through” the Mediation Process initially depends on whether or not each party returns a properly completed Probate and Family Court Financial Statement. The Mediator needs a correct Financial Statement for many reasons. An insufficient Statement causes delay and increased cost. At the outset, the Mediator will provide clients with the form and instructions.

To complete the Divorce Mediation the mediator will guide the parties through any issues surrounding the three major components of a Separation Agreement – the children, support and division of property.

The length of time it takes to resolve each component is directly related to the amount of disagreement on each component.

For example, if the parties have already agreed on how many over-nights the children will spend at each parent’s home, they have essentially resolved about 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. The same applies to support. If the parties agree with the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and their respective post-divorce financial needs, they will also have resolved 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. Lastly, if the parties agree on the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and have already decided how the property listed on each Financial Statement will be divided between them, then they will have resolved 1/3 of the Mediation.

Assuming a fact pattern similar to the above, then the mediation can be completed in less than three hours. There remains only the preparation of the formal Divorce Separation Agreement by the mediator. (Only divorce mediators who are attorneys can prepare Divorce Separation Agreements.) Under the above scenario, it would take about one and half hours or less to prepare the Agreement.

So how long does a divorce mediation take? About four to five hours if the Financial Statements are accurate and the parties are in agreement as to the major issues.

 

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

What is the Difference Between Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Certified Collaborative Lawyer

MEDIATION is an independent, voluntary, confidential process conducted by a mediator, who is neutral. Attorneys are not required. The mediator will:

  • Assist you and your spouse in identifying those issues preventing settlement.
  • Explore various avenues to resolution.
  • Develop a settlement resolution acceptable to you and your spouse.
  • Will prepare a Separation Agreement for presentation to the Court. (Only mediators who are attorneys may draft Separation Agreements.)

The two of you will select the mediator. The mediator’s fees will usually be split between the two of you, however, the two of you may agree to a different responsibility for the fee.

The major benefits of Mediation are:

  • The mediation is private.
  • 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%.
  • An attorney need not be present at mediation sessions.

In COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE, you, your spouse, your Collaborative lawyers and Coaches make up the Collaborative Team. The Team has one goal, the quick and efficient resolution of all issues without trial litigation.

Coaches make your divorce process efficient and usually less expensive. The most common Coaches are the Facilitator and the Financial Neutral. The Facilitator expedites the process by helping you and your spouse identify term goals and overcome inter-personal roadblocks. The Financial Neutral expedites the process by analyzing the financial needs of your family, identifying tax provisions related to those needs and creating realistic plans to preserve family income and property. Coach hourly fees are often much lower than attorney hourly fees.

In Collaborative Divorce, attorneys are specially trained and certified.

Your Professional Collaborative Team will:

  • Identify issues regarding the children, support and property division that are preventing resolution.
  • Divide primary responsibility for resolving those issues. For example, issues dealing with the children will be addressed primarily by the Facilitator Coach; issues about the amount of support needed will be addressed by the Financial Coach.
  • Have the required Separation Agreement, Petition for Divorce and Affidavit prepared, executed and filed.
  • Have your attorneys accompany you to the Probate and Family Court for your divorce hearing before a Judge.

The major benefits of Collaborative Divorce are:

  • From beginning to end, you are with and “supported” by a team dedicated to getting you and your spouse divorced quickly and efficiently.
  • All issues are dealt with and resolved in confidential sessions.
  • Your attorneys handle all the administrative court matters to get your divorce papers filed, docketed and scheduled for a hearing.
  • At your divorce hearing your attorneys will respond to questions of the judge, thereby avoiding rescheduling of the hearing because you did not have an attorney to correctly answer questions.

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

A WORKSHOP FOR THOSE FACING DIVORCE

Feeling Stuck? Don’t know where to begin?  Divorce can be overwhelming, scary and the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing.  You need a plan.  But where do you start?   Regain control and clarity by learning about the legal, financial, family and personal issues that accompany the divorce process.

  • Which legal process is best for you and your family?
  • Is Mediation better and less expensive than Litigation?
  • Is Collaborative Divorce better than Mediation?
  • Will you 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 Coaches and Divorce Financial Analysts will provide the knowledge and information you need to empower you through the divorce process with confidence and peace of mind.

LEARN HOW TO CHART YOUR COURSE TO A BETTER DIVORCE

 Sign up today at NorthShoreCollaborativeDivorce.com

Workshop is free and all attendees will receive a Divorce Resource Handbook

  October 20th  –  9:30 am – 12:00 pm

The Peabody Institute Library (Danvers), 15 Sylvan St., Danvers, MA

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A Divorce Workshop for Those Facing Divorce

NORTH SHORE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

PRESENTS

Learn What you Need to Know –

A Divorce Workshop for Those Facing Divorce

 

Getting Divorced? A workshop for those facing divorce. Learn about the legal, financial, family and personal issues that accompany the divorce process.

  • How do I get divorced and where do I start?
  • Is Mediation better and less expensive than Litigation?
  • Is Collaborative Divorce better than Mediation and 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 Coaches and Divorce Financial Analyst will provide the information you need to empower you through the divorce process.

YOU HAVE OPTIONS – COME, LEARN WHAT THEY ARE

Saturday, September 15th, 10:00am to 12:30pm

Danvers Library (Peabody Institute Library)

15 Sylan Street, Danvers, MA

This workshop is complimentary

RSVP: 978-744-9591/ ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

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

 

My Advice for Divorce Month

By: Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Arbitrator, Mediator & Collaborative Lawyer

 

Divorce Month is almost here. In 2016, I saw one of the saddest, unnecessary, adversarial divorces ever. The cost in emotions, future harmony and money was enormous and unnecessary.

So again, I urge everyone who is facing divorce to consider seriously staying out of the public adversarial divorce system. It will hurt and it will hurt way into the future.

Staying out of the “system” generally means choosing one of two processes, either confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce. Take the time to read about these important confidential divorce approaches at The Three Approaches to Divorce.

If the two of you agree on only one thing, let it be that you will use confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce.

Hand in hand with the right approach is the right lawyer. Not all divorce lawyers are qualified to do divorce mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Mediation requires training and success. Collaborative Attorneys need to be certified. Believe me, this is not the time to go to your third cousin’s friend’s real estate lawyer.

 

For more information about Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce:

The Three Approaches – Graphically

The Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council

The Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation

The Divorce Center

Saving $$$$ When Facing Divorce — Financial Statements

looking-to-save

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos

In my over 25 years of helping people facing divorce, I have seen, in almost every divorce, a reoccurring client decision that results in wasting hundreds, and sometimes, thousands of dollars.

What is that decision? The decision not to read and follow the court’s instructions on how to complete the court’s Financial Statement.

In all divorce cases, the most important document is the Probate and Family Court Financial Statement.

In an “uncontested” divorce, the judge reads the Financial Statement to help her or him decide if she or he will approve the parties’ Separation Agreement.  I have seen judges, or their clerks, refuse to let uncontested divorce cases be approved because Financial Statements did not conform to the court’s instructions.

In contested cases, the Financial Statement helps the judge determine many issues, for example, the standard of living of a party, the needs of a party, and the honesty of a party.

In my office, and the offices of many attorneys I know, we do not complete client Financial Statements. No client of mine can ever say, “I do not know where that number came from, my attorney completed the Financial Statement.” Clients must complete their own Financial Statements.

The Probate and Family Court Instructions for Financial Statements can be found by going to my web site DivorcingOptions.com, then to RESOURCES, then to Long Form Instructions or Short Form Instructions.

There are about 13 to 15 paragraphs of instruction.

The instructions for both forms are accompanied by a self-calculating form for the user’s convenience.

Here is a list of the most ignored instructions:

  1. Fill in your name and address;
  2. Answer every question;
  3. If an answer to a question is 0 or none, enter 0 or none;
  4. All income and expenses are to be reported in weekly amounts with monthly figures being divided by 4.3;
  5. List all assets and present value.

Since the Family Court wants its instructions followed, my paralegal or I must point out what needs to be changed, in a client’s draft Statement, to comply with the court’s instructions.

Because clients are paying for time, the amount of errors and the amount of resistance (Yes, some clients resist the court’s instructions under the misbelief that the court will make an exception in their case.) can result in legal fees that are avoidable.

The take away:

The court’s instructions are few and clear. Taking the time to follow them can save you $$$$.