AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM NORTH SHORE COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ABOUT ITS NEXT WORKSHOP

Chart Your Course to a Better Divorce – What You Need to Know

If you are contemplating divorce or already knee-deep in the process, this 2.5 hour educational workshop is for you. Chances are, you are overwhelmed and can’t seem to find the right answers to your specific questions about the divorce process. Your friends tell you one thing and your family tells you another. But the only way to get through one of the most difficult events of your life is to be empowered with the information you need to make informed decisions.

Who gets the house? Will I get child support and alimony? How does the new tax law impact alimony in 2019? Am I entitled to half of my spouse’s retirement even though I never worked? Can a pension be divided? Am I going to be financially okay after the divorce?

You have so many questions and we have all the answers. Our workshop will focus on the legal, emotional and financial issues commonly encountered in the divorce process. Our Family Law attorneys discuss your options with regards to which process you should choose – litigation, collaborative or mediation, as well as explaining the law when it comes to support issues like child support, family support and alimony.

Our experienced Divorce Coaches discuss the emotional roadblocks you will experience and offer ways on how to handle them. Family issues like how to tell the children or how to continue relationships with grandparents and in-laws are also addressed.

Our Divorce Financial Experts discuss the different types of assets commonly divided in divorce along with the potential pitfalls and tax issues that can arise. What are your options with the marital home – do you keep, sell or buyout? We’ll lay it all out for you!

Why do we do this workshop? Because we are a group of divorce professionals who strongly believe that when people are educated and informed about their specific situations, they are better prepared to make the important decisions that are best for them and their family.

We are North Shore Collaborative Divorce. Please visit our website: Northshorecollaborativedivorce.com.

The only way to empower yourself with accurate information is to hear it directly from the experts – those divorce professionals who focus solely on working with divorcing spouses.

AT DANVERS’ PEABODY INSTITUTE LIBRARY

(15 Sylvan Street, Danvers, MA 01923)

Saturday, February 9, 2019 

9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

This Workshop is FREE!

 

CONSIDERING DIVORCE? THE DECISION….

The Holiday Season is often followed by the Decision to divorce – I call it: “The Decision”.

For couples with young children, The Decision must consider them. From a child’s point of view, 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.

In the lives of young children, no decision of their parents can have a more negative effect than The Decision.  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?  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.

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

©2019 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

 

The “New” Child Support Guidelines – Effective September 15, 2017

The new Child Support Guidelines (CSG) go into effect on September 15th. Here, in outline form, is a summary of the primary CSG Factors.

Child Support Guidelines Factors:

Important factors considered in making an order for child support (CS) include the following:

Alimony and unallocated support

An order, if based on relevant tax consequences presented by a party, may designate money for support of a child to be alimony or unallocated support. p8 (This refers to the relevant page in the 2017 CSG.) However, gross income considered for a child support order cannot be considered for an alimony order.p9

The first $250,000.00

The CSG calculations apply to combined incomes of up to $250,000.00. The CSG calculation for the combined $250,000.00 should normally be the presumed minimum order. Support over this amount is discretionary.p9   The court may consider the excess in setting an order for the payment of extra-curricular activities, private school, summer camp, etc.p14 and for post- secondary school costs and orders in excess of the UMass minimum (See below.).

Parenting Time

The CSG calculations are based on the child(ren) having a primary residence with one parent and spending approximately 1/3 of their time with the other parent. There is a rebuttable presumption that the resulting calculation shall be the order.p9

Where parents share equally or approximately equal financial responsibility and parenting time, then a special calculation is done.p10

If the non-residential parent’s parenting time is substantially less than 1/3 of the child’s time, then the court may deviate upwards in the support order.

Child Care and Health Care Costs

In most cases, the Guidelines’ worksheet will automatically adjust for these costs.

Children 18 or over

First, 18 year olds still in high school are considered not yet 18. After leaving high school, child support is discretionary with the court.p10   It is not presumed.

In deciding whether to order child support, the court will consider all relevant factors, including those listed in the Guidelines.p11   One consideration will be whether or not the child is in a post-secondary educational program, if so, the judge will consider the costs involved (see below) and then consider the impact of an order for child support and an order for education costs.

Contribution to post high school costs

 Orders for contribution toward post high school education costs are discretionary – it is not presumed.p11  The judge will consider all relevant factors surrounding college or vocational costs and the impact of both a child support order and an education contribution order.

If an order of contribution is made, it cannot exceed, for each parent, 50% of the undergraduate, in state, costs for a UMass-Amherst student; unless the court makes findings that a parent can afford to pay more.

You can read the Guidelines yourself at The New Child Support Guidelines.

 

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
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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

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 $$$$.

 

IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE FACING DIVORCE…this may help when they come to you for help. By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, arbitrator, mediator, collaborative attorney

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

If someone facing divorce comes to you, I hope this article will help.

First StepThink about how divorce will affect your children. 

Think about what is in the best interest of your children.child-support-visitationOften unknown, or unappreciated, the Decision has an indelible and devastating effect on young children. Children often see divorce as the death of the child’s family, at least as the child has known the family. This “death” can result in outcomes including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, pain and depression. In the lives of young children, no decision of their parents can have a more negative effect than the decision to divorce.

Second Step – Talk alone with your spouse about the Decision. “But, we can’t talk! That’s why we’re divorcing!” Well listen, if your child was in the emergency room and you and your spouse had to talk to 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? 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, until you are both comfortable with the professional. If you have done all you can to keep the family “alive” and still divorce is necessary, then do it the right way.

Third Step– Pick the best divorce Process first, and then pick your divorce attorney.BestAll too often, people go to an attorney first. This is not the best approach. Attorneys are best at “what they do”. For example, consider this medical scenario, if you go to a surgical oncologist for advice on how to handle a newly discovered tumor, you will most likely get advice on the best surgery. If you go to a medical oncologist, you will get advice on chemotherapy. The radiology oncologist will give you advice on cancer radiation. It is the same in divorce, e.g. there are litigators, there are mediators, etc. Study and select the Process; then pick the attorney who works well in that Process.

There are two overall divorce processes – the Court Process and the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process.

The Court Divorce Process

The Court Process assumes a confrontational route. (See: The Adversarial Approach for a different assumption).  The confrontation begins when you or your spouse declare, in a public document called a Complaint for Divorce, that you are suing for divorce and you want custody of the children (if any) and an equitable division of all property.
In the Complaint for Divorce, the plaintiff is the accuser and the defendant is the accused or defender. (In the Court Process, all proceedings and most documents are open to and available to the public for viewing and copying.)
In Massachusetts, there are rules that set out the procedure for using the Court Process. One of the rules is called: Standing Order 1-06 – the Time Standards.
When considering what Process is best for you, it is important to understand the effect of the Time Standards on your budget.  The Standards establish a list of events that must be attended to. Failure to attend to an event may result in sanctions. I say “attend to” because although Standing Order 1-06 orders certain acts, for example, the completion, filing, and serving of a Financial Statement within a certain period, experienced divorce attorneys know there are other rules that permit parties to skip, delay or get around a Time Standards rule.  Sound confusing? For experienced attorneys, it is not; for persons who represent themselves, it may be quite confusing.
For those considering cost, the Court Process, by its nature, will require you to pay your attorney for “attending to” a required “Time Standard” event. Given the number of “events” in Standing Order 1-06, this can be costly.
Under the Court Process, if you and your spouse cannot resolve your differences, you will have a court trial. Learn what a court trial entails by clicking and reading my article: Who does court trials anymore?

The ADR Divorce Process

In divorce, there are four alternative approaches to divorce resolution – non-confrontational adversarial, Collaborative divorce, mediation and arbitration. Regardless of the approach you use, the only time you will be in the court system is when you appear for a five minute uncontested divorce hearing. There is no Divorce Complaint! There is no plaintiff! There is no defendant! No Time Standards! No dirty linen washed in public!
Click here for more information about Non-confrontational Adversarial Divorce. The key to resolution in this process is for you and your spouse to have very competent non-confrontational adversarial attorneys. Be sure to check out an attorney’s reputation. You want a peacemaker not a warrior. If an attorney thinks like a general, talks like a general and moves like a general, he or she lives and works in the confrontational world. He or she is not a non-confrontational adversarial attorney.

Collaborative Divorce is a unique process where you, your spouse, and your own trained and certified collaborative attorneys, and other specialists, work together for, and only for, resolution of all issues.

In Divorce Mediation, you and your spouse work together to resolve your own issues with the help of a divorce mediator. The mediator is not a legal expert or advisor; the mediator establishes the atmosphere and uses proven techniques to help you and your spouse reach agreement on all divorce issues.

Arbitration is used in conjunction with any of the other ADR approaches. It is used to resolve deadlock, i.e., where parties cannot agree on an issue.
Choosing the right approach can make a real difference in the time and cost of this life-altering period.
Anthony C. Adamopoulos ©2016

Mediation and Arbitration of Temporary Orders in Divorce by Howard Goldstein, Mediator and Collaborative Divorce Lawyer

For some time now, from time to time, I have sat in Family Court and watched as the ‘Motion Session’ played out. Litigants waiting, sometime for hours, to get “five minutes” to argue, for example, why Plaintiff needs “support” and why Defendant believes Plaintiff should not get the support. Or perhaps, mother and father have taken a day off  from work to each argue why the kids should be with them for Christmas.

There is a better and wiser way and my colleague Howard Goldstein has explained it well in his article, reprinted below.

The traditional start to a divorce case in Massachusetts is the filing of a complaint, service of a summons and scheduling of temporary orders. The temporary orders are designed to tide over the parties with custody and financial orders that maintain the status quo, or at least the peace, until the case is ready for trial. In Massachusetts a contested no-fault divorce cannot be scheduled for trial any earlier than six months after filing of the complaint, but in practice it usually takes more than a year to get a trial. Because we have a single calendar system now, the judge who decides the temporary orders is likely to be the same judge who presides at trial. For that reason, the decision on temporary orders can determine the entire course of a case and have a major impact on the outcome.

The decision to promptly proceed to temporary orders carries some serious risks however. It is not likely that meaningful discovery will have taken place before the hearing, the clients and lawyers are new to each other, and the tensions and drama attendant to the early stages of a divorce combine to make it more likely that the Judge at the temporary order stage will get it wrong. It is never clear at the outset which party will benefit from the riskiness of the process. It is very difficult once a temporary order is entered by a judge to get it modified. So with a year or longer to a trial, a bad result at the temporary order stage could create undue pressure on at least one of the clients, to either capitulate and settle, or escalate the litigation to try to force a more favorable result. All of this comes at great expense both financially and emotionally. The family can be effected for generations by a hastily convened hearing on temporary orders.

Even in a case that will eventually go to trial, mediating or arbitrating at the temporary order stage can be quite beneficial. Consider the following:

  1. A settlement arrived at by mediation may, by agreement, not be filed in Court and therefore the parties will not prejudice the trial judge one way or another.
  2. Even if the parties wish to file the settlement in Court, the stipulation can be clear that it is without prejudice to a future contested motion for temporary orders. Since the trial judge did not make the decision and it’s a settlement, it will be more likely that it can be modified if circumstances change and it does not reflect the point of view of the trial judge, so that the settlement negotiations, or the trial, if necessary, is much more of a “blank slate” process.
  3. The stipulation for temporary orders can recite a short period of time during which it is operative: perhaps 3 months or 6 months, to give the parties time to negotiate a comprehensive settlement after all discovery has taken place and everyone has access to all relevant information.  Unlike in litigation, in mediation there is no winner or loser, so neither party will feel they have an edge or an advantage, contributing to a better negotiating climate for final resolution.
  4. Typically a Motion for temporary orders will get 15 or 20 minutes of a judge’s attention in Court. The parties can devote as much time as they want to the mediation.
  5. If the parties are unable to agree on temporary orders with the assistance of a mediator, they can agree to arbitrate—in that case a neutral person is given the power by the parties to make the decision. There is a process that is called Med/Arb in which the parties make a good faith effort to settle their motions with the assistance of a mediator, and if its not possible, the same mediator can be authorized in advance to just make a decision after a certain amount of time has passed. Such a process creates incentives to settle, but also gives the parties confidence that if they can’t reach an agreement someone will make a binding decision. The parties can agree in advance with an arbitrator to boundaries that will make the process less risky. For example, the arbitration can be what is called a high low arbitration. The parties set the boundaries within which the decision will be made. So the arbitrator can be authorized to set alimony but it has to be within a predetermined range, acceptable to both parties, or it can be limited to a period of time, such as three months or six months. None of this flexibility is available at a hearing on temporary orders before a judge.

If parties are willing to be creative there are many opportunities to come up with a dispute resolution process that is more client friendly and more flexible than what is available in the Courts. In my experience mediation is most often considered only at the end of a case when it is close to a trial date. This may come from a misguided assumption that appearing too eager for a settlement is a sign of weakness. The opposite is true. Mediating or arbitrating the temporary orders stage of a case make it more likely that the case will settle in its entirety. Clients and opposing counsel can see through posturing. Demonstrating thoughtfulness and creativity in reaching solutions will be respected by your opposing counsel and appreciated by your clients.

 

Howard’s office is in Newton.  Thank you, Howard.