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

NO LAW REQUIRES DIVORCING COUPLES TO DIVIDE ASSETS 50/50

By: Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Arbitrator, Mediator, Collaborative Attorney

Recently, a distressed client, I will call Casie, came to me. She feared for her future. Casie explained that her husband wanted a divorce and “claimed” he would “get” his lawful 50% of the house and her pension.

Casie described in her marital history valid reasons why it would not be fair for her husband to get a 50% share.

Massachusetts is an Equitable Division state. This means that a judge must first determine what is equitable (or fair) before dividing the property.

The reasons that Casie offered in support of her belief that a 50/50 split would be unfair were the type of reasons a Family Court Judge would consider in deciding how to divide the value of the family home and a pension.

In order to help a judge decide what is fair (equitable), the law provides a list of certain required considerations a judge is to consider in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned”* to each party.  The required considerations are:

  1. the length of the marriage,
  2. the conduct of the parties during the marriage,
  3. the age of each party,
  4. the health of each party,
  5. the station of the parties,
  6. the occupation of each party,
  7. the amount and sources of income of each party,
  8. the vocational skills of each party,
  9. the employability of each party,
  10. the estate of the parties,
  11. the liabilities and needs of each of the parties,
  12. the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and
  13. the amount and duration of alimony, if any, awarded.

In addition, the law says the judge may in “fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned” to each party, consider the following:

  1. the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage,
  2. the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates, and
  3. the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit.

In reality, judges consider these three factors along with the 13 listed above.

So, the 50/50 rule does not apply in Massachusetts, and the Rule of Equitable Division provides for the consideration of many marital factors before a division is made.

*You can read the actual law by Googling Mass.provides Gen Law C.208, Sec.34

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

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

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.

 

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 $$$$.