COVID-19-The Divorce Rate and Cutting the Cost of Divorce

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos Topsfield Divorce Mediator and Collaborative Divorce attorney.

According to the New York Times, the experience of other countries suggests the ravages of COVID-19 will lead us to more divorces. And, according to the Pew Research Center, divorce itself is contagious. For example, if you divorce, the chances become higher that your friends will divorce.

Here in Massachusetts, there is already anecdotal evidence of the divorce rise.

For some, divorce is “necessary”, regardless of the Crisis. This “necessity” is adversely affected by the financial crisis. Divorce litigation is costly, now the burden is greater. The good news is that you can reduce the costs of divorce.

Here are alternatives to divorce litigation which can dramatically lower divorce costs. (Space limitations make the descriptions short, but sufficient for an internet search.)

Conference-Call-Mediation. Traditional divorce mediation works best for 3 or less issues. Today, experienced divorce mediators will conduct COVID-19 sensitive sessions.

COVID-19 Sensitive Collaborative Divorce serves couples facing complicated issues. Problems are resolved in an efficient, cost-cutting manner with each party’s attorney present and assisting.

Reconciliation Agreement Mediation serves couples seeking a second chance at their marriage. The Agreement reconciles differences, while admitting the possibility of divorce. It sets out rights and obligations for each, if a divorce is eventually filed; then, the Reconciliation Agreement, by law, turns into a Separation Agreement.

Use a neutral divorce financial advisor or neutral divorce facilitator. Click here for my blog article  on why divorce neutrals can cut divorce costs: https://www.divorcingoptions.com/Blog/how-to-save-real-money-in-a-divorce/

Use a Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) Attorney. An LAR attorney offers “a la carte” legal services. Clients select and pay only for specific tasks, such writing a Settlement Agreement.

During these times, experienced divorce attorneys who concentrate in divorce resolution, not litigation, are valuable resources for cutting divorce costs,

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Headed for a Covidivorce and Can’t Afford Divorce Mediation? Use a Certified LAR Attorney.

By Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Collaborative Divorce Representation, Divorce Arbitrator.

In a matter of weeks, the world has changed for those facing divorce, not to mention that the family/divorce court has all but closed.

What do you do when you cannot afford a full-service divorce mediator?

Use a Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) attorney to save money. .

Your LAR attorney, who must be certified, will offer you “a la carte” legal services. In other words, you will select and pay only for specific tasks, for example, preparation of a Settlement Agreement.

A Settlement Agreement is an all-encompassing written agreement that addresses issues related to a couple’s divorce. When parties settle their divorce issues with a Settlement Agreement, they avoid divorce litigation.

A LAR attorney only represents one party.

There are various ways of arriving at a Settlement Agreement when you retain a LAR lawyer. What follows is a possible scenario:

You get from your LAR attorney the documents needed to properly help you.

The attorney then advises you as to what issues have to be addressed for your particular Settlement Agreement.

You tell your attorney what you and your spouse have agreed to so far. Your attorney then prepares a draft Settlement Agreement addressing the issues on which you and your spouse agree.

Then you address with your attorney areas of disagreement you have with your spouse.  Your attorney ask questions, refers to the documents you gave him, considers possible approaches, and then makes suggestions to you.

You then go back and negotiate with your spouse and the two of you reach agreement.

Your attorney then prepares a final draft Settlement Agreement.

You accept the draft and show it to your spouse. If your spouse accepts the draft, the two of you have a final Settlement Agreement.

If you only hired your LAR attorney to prepare a Settlement Agreement, you now have one to use when you file for divorce.

You decide how much or how little you will use your LAR attorney.

For a LAR Handout click here.

For more information on LAR click here.

©2020

What is the Difference Between Imputed Income and Attributed Income?

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

Imputed and attributed income are distinguished in the Child Support Guidelines, 2018.

Imputed income is income that is not reported on a parent’s Financial Statement but is nevertheless being received by or available to the parent.  One appellate court decision has said: A judge may “reasonably impute income to [a] parent” who receives “[e]xpense reimbursements, in-kind payments or benefits received by a parent, personal use of business property, and payment of personal expenses by a business in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business . . . if such payments are significant and reduce personal living expenses.”

Attributable income is  “[i]ncome …[assigned] to a parent when the Court determines a parent is capable of earning more than is currently being earned and assigns a hypothetical amount of income to the parent.”    If a judge finds that a parent is unreasonably underemployed or unemployed, the judge may assign attributable income to that parent.

©2020

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

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION &

 DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

 

 

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My Spouse is Hiding income. Is that Imputed Income?

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

Yes, it may be. Imputed income is an amount that a judge assigns to your spouse when your spouse’s Financial Statement does not report the assigned income.This comes up when you are able to show the judge at least one of two types of evidence about your spouse’s real income.

In the first type, there is evidence showing your spouse spending way above his or her means. For example, your spouse is leasing a Ferrari at a monthly cost of more than half of his or her monthly income.

In the second type, your spouse receives reimbursements or employer payment for expenses that are not reported in his or her Financial Statement, for example per diem payments or cell phone payments.

If the judge accepts the evidence of unreported income, an amount representing the unreported income may be imputed, or assigned, to the non-reporting party.

However, in court litigation, you have to consider the consequences of disclosing unreported taxable income because the judge is obligated to report the matter to the IRS. If you filed joint returns, an IRS audit may hurt you in an unexpected way.

One of the many advantages to using Collaborative Divorce or Divorce Mediation is that the process is confidential and the parties can negotiate an agreement as to all money being earned.

© Anthony C. Adamopoulos 2019

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

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION &

DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

#divorcemediation

#collaborativedivorce

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How Does a Judge Set Alimony?

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

Alimony is based on: the need of the recipient, the payor’s ability to pay it and a cap on the amount to be paid.

To determine need, the judge must consider: marriage length; age and health of the parties; income, employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary; economic and non-economic contribution of both parties to the marriage; marital lifestyle; ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle; lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage; and other factors considered relevant and material.

For the payor’s ability to pay, the judge considers the above factors to see if the payor has money left over after providing for the payor’s need. If there is money left over, the judge will generally award alimony to be the lesser of the recipient’s need or 30 to 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes.

In Collaborative Divorce and Mediation, the parties have more leeway in setting alimony.

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

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

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION &

DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

#alimony

#settingalimony

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Is Collaborative Divorce Cheaper than Mediation or a Court Resolution?

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

 

Unless a couple has been married for under a year, it is almost impossible to quote the cost of any divorce process, let alone Collaborative Divorce.

What can be said is that Collaborative Divorce is efficient and cost effective. And, it meets emotional and economic needs in a way that mediation cannot.

Collaborative attorneys have one objective, settlement.  This is not the case with court resolution. Attorneys of mediation clients usually do not attend settlement negotiations and work on the specifics of settlement.

Collaborative attorneys work under a schedule geared to speedy settlement. Court cases react to court-imposed schedules which may not reflect client needs. Mediators often have one client wait while the needs of the other client are being addressed.

Collaborative attorneys serve at their client’s side and speak on their behalf. In mediation, attorneys are usually not present, leaving clients to negotiate and speak for themselves.

Collaborative trained “neutrals” resolve economic or emotional problems, usually on lower fee schedules.  Mediators do not routinely use neutrals.

In summary, for marriages of over 5 years, involving good earnings, significant assets and disagreement surrounding children, support of one party or the division of property, Collaborative Divorce is the efficient cost-effective choice.

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE MEDIATION & DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

Anthony is available to discuss and explain Collaborative Divorce & Divorce Mediation to private and public groups.

#collaborativedivorce

#divorcemediation

#cheapdivorce

#collaborativeattorneynearme

 

 

For How Long Will Alimony Run?

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

Alimony here refers to the most common type – General Term.

The length or duration of alimony is contingent on two factors.

The first is the length of the marriage. (Italics are quotes from the Alimony Reform Law.)

The length of the marriage begins, at a minimum, from the date of marriage. However, the court (or arbitrator) may increase the length … if there is evidence that the parties’ economic marital partnership began during their cohabitation … prior to the marriage.

If there was an economic marital partnership, an extension to the length of the marriage, is in the discretion of the judge (or arbitrator).

Some evidence of an economic marital partnership includes the couple:

  • holding themselves out as an intact family;
  • wearing rings, they bought for each other;
  • participating in activities together with their children;
  • vacationing together;
  • sharing finances;
  • sharing the cost of housing.

The length of the marriage ends when a spouse is served a notice of divorce.

The second factor. Once the length of the marriage is determined, the judge (or arbitrator) then sets the duration of alimony.

Presumptive limits on the duration of alimony are based on the length of the marriage.

Where the marriage is longer than 20 years, alimony may extend for an indefinite length of time… .

For 20 years or less there are four categories of duration:

(1) If the length of the marriage is 5 years or less, … not longer than one-half the number of months of the marriage.

(2) [for] 10 years or less, but more than 5 years… not longer than 60 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.

(3 [for] 15 years or less, but more than 10 years, …not longer than 70 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.

(4) [for] 20 years or less, but more than 15 years, …not longer than 80 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.

 The above duration categories are presumptive and the judge (or arbitrator) may deviate from the presumption. (Rules for deviation are left for another article.)

So, to determine the presumptive duration of alimony, first determine the length of the marriage and then fit the length into one of the 5 duration periods.

 

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

Anthony is available to discuss and explain Collaborative Divorce & Divorce Mediation to private and public groups.

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Attorney Pontisakos Added to Primary Care Attorney Referral Registry

 

Very pleased to announce that Attorney Demetra Pontisakos has been added to my Primary Care Attorney Referral Registry.

Demetra has over 30 years of experience in family law and practices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  That means she can handle family law matters that cross state lines.  Demetra is a skilled negotiator and litigator. She has experience and training in a variety of approaches to resolving family law issues and, she produces excellent results for her clients. People I have referred to her report back that they are thankful for her abilities and the good results she achieved. Demetra also practices in certain specialized probate matters in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. So, if you need a perfect, respected referral, please give me a call.

Remember that in addition to mediation, arbitration and collaborative representation services, I am a Primary Care Attorney who can refer you to a respected attorney with the expertise you need. My registry of experienced, respected attorneys is available and near you.

Anthony C. Adamopoulos is a divorce mediator, collaborative attorney and divorce arbitrator who practices in your area, and can be reached at:  acaboston@aol.com or (978) 744-9591.

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

#divorcemediatornearme

#collaborativeattorneynearme

 

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