Are you waiting for a hearing or trial date? Is your court date way off into the future? Well, it’s time to stop waiting and talk to each of your attorneys about arbitration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos – Divorce Arbitrator, Mediator and Collaborative Attorney

There is a faster way to resolve your court motion or trial issue?

Arbitration is faster. What is the other way? Think about it. You are waiting for, a third person, a judge, to decide a dispute. Stop waiting and have your own private “third person” Divorce Arbitrator decide the dispute within weeks.

Who uses Divorce Arbitration now? Frankly, until COVID caused delays in the courts, it was typically the wealthy or persons wanting privacy who used private and confidential divorce arbitration.

Think about it. It is time you and your spouse think about the wait time for a court date and consider arbitration’s benefits.

The benefits of arbitration. Because of court delays, divorcing parties are looking into the benefits and cost advantages of divorce arbitration. For example, having an expert appear in a court proceeding will cost a lot. In arbitration, you may use an expert’s affidavit instead of an appearance. Also, in arbitration you can get a confidential arbitration hearing in a week. In the court process, you can’t unilaterally use an affidavit, you can’t get a confidential hearing and you can’t get a hearing in a week.

Start now. Here is what to do, to move to the top of your own personal divorce resolution line:

  • Tell your attorney you want to use arbitration and you want your spouse’s attorney called and persuaded to use arbitration.
  • Have both attorneys talk to potential arbitrators (you can’t do that with judges) and have them recommend one to you and your spouse.
  • Get an early arbitration hearing date.
  • Have your confidential hearing with no formal Rules of Evidence to slow it down and cost more.
  • From there it is pretty easy for each of you to tell your story, get an award (decision) and finalize the award.

For more information have your attorney call. Conference calls with you, your spouse and your attorneys can be scheduled. An initial arbitration information call with your attorney is free.

Wait. There Are Different Ways to Get Divorced? The major divorce process choices explained: demystifying your options.

By Ann Buscho, Ph.D.  This article was posted Feb 16, 2021 at the Psychology Today Blog: : A Better Divorce.  Dr. Buscho is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in family issues and issues related to divorce, parenting, parenting planning, and co-parenting counseling. It is reprinted here with permission of Dr. Buscho. Learn more at www.drannbuscho.com  (Two brackets were added by ACA)

 

THE BASICS

 

Your spouse has announced [he wants] a divorce. Or maybe you’ve decided that you have no other choice. How does a divorce happen?

The process you choose has a huge effect on how the divorce will go, how long it will take, how painful it will be, and how much it will cost. In this blog post, I will give you a brief overview of

the divorce process options so that you can begin to think about the direction you’d like to go.

In California and some other states, you can attend a free workshop called Divorce Options. This three-hour workshop packs in a ton of information about the divorce process and the law, which vary in different states. It also includes information about how to tell your children, and how to make the divorce easier for them.

Once you have all the information about various divorce processes, you can make a thoughtful decision about which process is the right one for you and your family.

Without this valuable information, if you don’t make a choice, people often end up in an adversarial process. In California, litigation is the default process. In other words, you need to choose another process, and if you don’t, your divorce will involve the court in a decision-making role, and you won’t have a confidential process.

Also, wait to interview or retain an attorney until you’re clear about which process you’d like to pursue. Often people rush out to hire a divorce attorney recommended by a friend. This attorney is going to be a very important person in your life, so choose someone who feels like a good fit. You will want advice, guidance, information, and someone you can trust.

I recommend that you interview more than one attorney but wait until you are clear about which process you will be using as attorneys often have practice specialties in one process but not all.

Here are the options:

  1. A do-it-yourself divorce. Also called a kitchen table divorce, may be a good choice if you don’t have property, own a business, or have children. If you have been in a short-term marriage and your divorce is amicable, you may be able to work out the details yourselves and submit the forms to the court. The drawback is that you won’t have the information you need about the law.

This process is best for very simple divorces where there isn’t much to negotiate or divide. Nolo Press has a do-it-yourself-divorce book that can walk you through all the steps.

  1. Mediation. Mediation is a very common way to settle a divorce. A mediator is a neutral facilitator. He or she will facilitate your conversations but won’t be able to give you advice. Some mediators are lawyers, and others are therapists or laymen. Because not all mediators know the laws, you should also hire a consulting attorney. That lawyer can advise and educate you about the law and will ensure that you understand your settlement before you sign anything. Many people consult with their attorneys between mediation sessions to prepare for the next session.

One advantage to mediation is that it is a confidential process, and your settlement can be kept confidential and not become part of the public record. Mediation works well when you and your spouse can communicate respectfully and honestly. You will need to feel confident that you can advocate for yourself and your needs. If one of you is overwhelmed with emotion or doesn’t have a clue about finances, mediation might not be the way to go. You may need more support.

In some areas, professionals are offering a hybrid called Integrative Mediation. In this scenario, there are two neutrals, such as an attorney and a therapist or financial specialist. This provides more support to you as you navigate the divorce process.

  1. Collaborative Divorce. Collaborative Divorce has been around since the mid-1990s but has recently become much more well known. When mediation doesn’t provide enough support, consider a Collaborative Divorce. In a Collaborative Divorce, each of you has your own attorney trained specifically in this process. You may have others on your teams, such as Collaboratively trained divorce coaches or financial specialists.

You have much more support in your negotiations, as the attorneys join you and your spouse at the meeting table to assist you in finding the resolutions that best work for each of you and your children. In a Collaborative Divorce, you and your spouse are in control of the decisions you’ll make, and the law is a factor, but not necessarily the determining factor. As long as you understand the law, you can make decisions outside of the law if they fit your family better. You can “think outside the box” to find win-win solutions.

The coaches help with communication and emotions, and the neutral financial specialist helps you put together your disclosures, which are required by law. Collaborative Divorce is a confidential process, like mediation, and a potentially amicable process.

You and your spouse sign an agreement not to go to litigation, and not to threaten it. If you do leave the Collaborative Process, your professionals will all withdraw, and you’ll have to hire new professionals. Collaborative Divorce is a good option if you need support, guidance, and advice, and you don’t want to take your divorce to court.

In some areas, you may hear of a “cooperative divorce” or a settlement-oriented divorce. In this process, the attorneys take a larger role in bringing your divorce to a final settlement, often negotiating on your behalf. It is not a confidential process.

  1. Litigation. Some families need an outside decision-maker when they are unable to come to an agreement in any other way. Unfortunately, the outcome is often a “win-lose” outcome, and you may find yourself going back to court over and over. You will each hire an attorney who will fight for you to win in court. It is the most adversarial process. Litigating attorneys often don’t work together cooperatively to come to a settlement. Their focus is on getting the “best deal” for you, even when the outcome may not be ideal for your children or family.

When your divorce is litigated, you are putting all of your decisions into the hands of the Judge, who is guided strictly by the law. Your attorneys make the most convincing case they can as they advocate for you, the client. The judge doesn’t know your family but is making big decisions for you, and can only use the law as a basis for his decisions. And don’t expect the judge to provide “justice” or to punish your spouse. This kind of high-conflict divorce is hard on you and your children. Avoid it if you can.

Litigation is probably the most costly process because you are in fact preparing for trial, although only 3-4% of divorces actually go to trial. The rest settle on the courthouse steps, at the last minute.

These are the four main process options, and in many areas, you will find some variations.

When you decide how you want to proceed, ask the attorney you interview these questions:

  1. Do you specialize in family law? How long have you been in practice?
  2. Have you been trained [and certified] in mediation or Collaborative Divorce? If so, how many cases have you done successfully?
  3. What percentage of your practice is mediation, going to court, and Collaborative Divorce?
  4. Have you worked with my spouse’s attorney in the past? How is your relationship with him/her?
  5. What are your fees?

In addition to the answers you get, ask yourself how it feels to be in the room (or on Zoom) with this person? Does she talk too much? Is he too aggressive? Does she welcome your questions and answer them directly? Is he interested in your intentions and desires? Does she seem to want to find a way to meet the needs of your whole family?

One last word of advice:

Take some time to settle down emotionally before starting a legal process. Work with a therapist, clergy, or divorce coach to work through your feelings. They can also work with you about how to tell your children and help them adjust.

Once your emotions have calmed down you will be able to think more clearly and make more well-thought-through decisions. This is all about self-care.

Start with self-care.

© Ann Buscho, Ph.D. 2021

Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D. is the author of The Parent’s Guide to Birdnesting: A Child-Centered Solution to Co-Parenting During Separation and Divorce, published by Simon & Schuster. For more information and help about divorce, check out Dr. Buscho’s web site at  www.drannbuscho.com.

 

HOW ARE ASSETS DIVIDED IN DIVORCE MEDIATION? HOW TO SAVE TIME & MONEY DOING IT?

   

                              Basic Principles of Dividing Property in Divorce Mediation

                                          By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator

As a mediator, I work hard to get parties to a property division quickly and for less cost. To do this, a properly prepared Financial Statement is essential. Unfortunately, some spouses are their own worst enemy when it comes to completing their Financial Statement; this causes delay and cost.

This article will explain how property is divided and how a properly prepared Financial Statement will efficiently lead to a mediated property division.

In Massachusetts, the general rule for dividing assets is that only material assets are divided. And, they are divided fairly. No Massachusetts law requires a 50/50 split.(See: https://www.divorcingoptions.com/Blog/if-we-go-to-court-will-our-property-be-divided-down-the-middle/ )

Generally, the mediator starts with asking if there is any reason why a fifty/fifty division would not be fair. If any reasons are offered they are considered and the mediator makes suggestions.

If mediating parties do not cooperate and compromise on a property division, then a judge or arbitrator will decide what is fair and a division is ordered as part of litigation.

Usually, substantial property includes: real estate, bank accounts with more money than necessary to pay a month’s worth of routine expenses, retirement accounts, investment accounts and valuable unique items, e.g., art work, a yacht or a private business.

It is not unusual to divide value rather than an actual item. For example, if property includes a house with an equity of $300,000.00 and a personal business in the husband’s name with an equity value of $300,000.00, the property agreement may be that the wife keeps the house and the husband keeps the business.

Generally, immaterial assets stay with whomever owned or primarily used the asset, examples include: an automobile, a wedding ring, engagement rings, a dump trailer used to take trash to the curbside, a lawnmower, tools.

Reasons for not equally dividing an asset, material or not, include, but are certainly not limited to: the marriage lasted less than five years; a spouse’s conduct resulted in unreasonable spending; a spouse’s health requires special needs; a spouse’s lack of any type of contribution toward the acquisition of a piece of property.

Before a division can be made, all material property needs to be properly described and listed in each spouse’s Financial Statement.

A properly prepared Financial Statement allows the judge, arbitrator, or mediator to:

  1. See how each piece of property is “legally held or owned”.
  2. See the value of each separate piece of property.
  3. Obtain the complete name of each property and any account number.

Items 1 and 2 are used to determine, with other information, what a fair division would be.

Item 3 is necessary to comply with the requirement that a Separation Agreement be “clear and unequivocal”. That is why the mediator includes the exact name and account number of material property in the property section of the Separation Agreement.

The first paragraph of this article stated: “… some spouses are their own worst enemy when it comes to properly completing their Financial Statement: …”. Clients who choose to ignore instructions for completing Financial Statements will always cause delay and more cost.

Marital debt must also be divided and can affect a property division; this is a subject for another day.

The 2 takeaways:

– In Massachusetts, property must be divided fairly, not equally.

– The failure to properly prepare the Court’s Financial Statement will delay the   property division and will add to the cost of divorce mediation.

©2020 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Our Clients Say It Best

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator and Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Recently, a couple came to me seeking my help in resolving their divorce. They were in litigation and had been “going at it” for over a year. Fortunately, with their hard work and dedication, we mediated a resolution.

They showed their appreciation by writing kind reviews and notes.

Here is a summary of some of their kind words about my style and my paralegal, Donna’s comforting manner:

My husband and I were in the divorce process for over one year.  Anthony helped us “untangle our knots” within a few short months and settle our case without trial.

Anthony took my urgent phone call right away, this was much appreciated and helped de-escalate the matter. 

He was more than flexible – he rearranged his schedule multiple times to accommodate our needs.  Thank you for helping us to meet our tight deadlines.

Anthony kept a calm, confident yet gentle presence during tense moments.  His role as teacher was helpful when one or both of us needed education on terms or concepts, or legal definitions.

Although I wish that no one would have to go through the divorce process, if you do find yourself in need of a mediator, I would recommend Anthony. His vast experience, warm and caring demeanor, and interest to be efficient in the proceedings will be a welcome respite in the process.

Donna’s warm and professional assistance with a comforting smile made the entire process easier to manage.  She is an empathic and impartial asset to your practice!

Anthony- Thank you for making an impossible resolution possible. 

©2020 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION &

 DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

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The Holidays are Over and We Need to Get This Divorce Behind Us

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Certified Divorce Mediator and Certified Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Listen folks, the holidays are over and the two of you are still facing the divorce problem.

It is time and it is best, for the two of you and your kids to get this divorce thing behind you.

It is hard to imagine it now, but things will get brighter for each of you when the divorce is behind you.

There are only two real ways to go, Mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Don’t spend big money or expend energy and tears going the old divorce route with lawyers that are not certified to travel the smart, less expensive roads to divorce resolution.

Where there are children under 23, there are three major issues in all divorces– taking care of the children, taking care of support and dividing the property.

Mediation is the way to go if your combined income is around $100,000.00 or less and there is no real disagreement over the children, support and property.

Collaborative Divorce is the sensible route where combined income is over $100,000.00 and there are real issues such as disputes over where the kids will live or how much self-employment income there is?

Call today for a consultation with an experienced and certified divorce resolver.

Anthony is available to discuss and explain Collaborative Divorce & Divorce Mediation to private and public groups. Call for more information.

© 2020 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION &

 DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

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What is Collaborative Divorce?

In Collaborative Divorce, you, your spouse, your lawyers and other Collaborative Team members make up the Collaborative Team. The Team has one goal, the efficient, collaborative resolution of all issues without trial, arbitration or the threat of either. This goal is accepted at the beginning by all Collaborative Team Members.

The Collaborative Team will include coaches who will make your divorce process efficient and usually less expensive.

The most common Collaborative Coaches are the Facilitator and the Financial Neutral. Your Facilitator expedites the process by helping you and your spouse identify short and long term goals and overcome inter-personal roadblocks. Your 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.

In Collaborative Divorce, attorneys are specially trained and certified in the practice of Collaborative Divorce. Since neither attorney need be concerned about the possibility of a trial, each is free to consider all options for obtaining a satisfactory resolution. In fact, all Collaborative Team members are encouraged to think “outside the box” when working toward the resolution of unique problems.

Should one party decide to convert to adversarial divorce, both attorneys must withdraw, and certain information gathered in collaboration cannot be used in the adversarial process.

Collaborative Divorce is totally confidential. In adversarial divorce, all court proceedings are public.

©2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

PREMIER LAWYERS OF AMERICA RECOGNIZES ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS

Anthony C. Adamopoulos a Divorce Mediator and Collaborative Divorce Attorney of Topsfield has been nominated for membership in Premier Lawyers of America.

Nominated attorneys have been found to demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in the practice of law. Nominations are made by attorneys or by the Premier Lawyers of America advisory committee.

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

Why Choose Collaborative Divorce?

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

Parties facing divorce have found this graph to be very helpful in choosing to use Collaborative Divorce.

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

 

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Free Educational Program – Chart Your Course to a Better Divorce

North Shore Collaborative Divorce will present a free educational program “Chart Your Course to a Better Divorce” addressing how the collaborative divorce process may be a better way to divorce.  The educational program will review the basic legal, emotional and financial issues commonly encountered during the divorce process.

Collaborative divorce takes a team approach.  The “team” consists of both parties, their respective attorneys, a neutral facilitator to address emotional and communication challenges which may arise and a neutral financial professional to help the team gather and understand financial information.  All of the professionals have completed Collaborative Divorce training.

The program will be presented by a panel of Collaboratively Certified professionals who practice on the North Shore and who will explain how Collaborative Divorce differs from divorce mediation and divorce litigation.  Some benefits of Collaborative Divorce are confidentiality of negotiations and a sensitive and informal approach that allows parties to control the agenda and pace of their progress.

The presentation will be repeated on the following dates and locations:

  • Thursday, October 3, 2019, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., in Meeting Room A, at the Flint Public Library, 1 South Main Street, Middleton, MA, 01949
  • Saturday, November 16, 2019, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the Gordon Meeting Room of the Danvers (Peabody Institute) Library, 15 Sylvan Street,  Danvers, MA 01923

All are welcome.  Simply register by calling Donna at 978-744-9591 or email to acaboston@aol.com with Subject Line – Register

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#COLLABORATIVEDIVORCE

#DIVORCEEDUCATION

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IF WE GO TO COURT, WILL OUR PROPERTY BE DIVIDED DOWN THE MIDDLE?

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

No. Massachusetts is an Equitable Division state. This means a judge determines what is a fair division of the assets and it may not be 50/50.

The law provides a list of certain factors a judge must 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” 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.

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

 

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

©2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos