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

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© 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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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

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS AMONG TOP 10 FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS IN MASSACHUSETTS

Topsfield divorce attorney and mediator Anthony C. Adamopoulos is pleased to announce that Attorney and Practice Magazine has ranked him among the top 10 family law attorneys in Massachusetts.

Attorney and Practice Magazine is a quarterly publication “addressing law firm management, attorney well-being, work/life balance, and the ever-changing technology that impacts a …practice.”  The List recognizes the significant achievements of those attorneys whose practice elevates the standards of the Massachusetts’ Bar.

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

(978) 744-9591

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© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

Announcement

Anthony C. Adamopoulos, a Topsfield divorce attorney and mediator, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court.  The Inn’s mission is to promote professionalism, civility and ethical awareness through discourse and education.