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.

 

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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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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  

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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

 

Facing Divorce? Here are Some Basics…

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

For those facing divorce, the summer is often a time of “thinking about it”.

Well, here is something to think about.

There comes a time when a person must stop looking to the past and begin to picture the future. If that future means divorce, then some real consideration must be given to moving into the future without needlessly spending monies that could be used for other needs.

Here are some basic suggestions:

  1. Join with your spouse in the joint self-serving purpose of “getting through this” by concentrating on the future. Because — when a divorcing party seeks to punish the other, everyone feels the pain.
  2. Consider avoiding the court process by using Mediation, Collaborative Divorce or Divorce Arbitration (see my website for more information on these dispute resolution procedures – DivorcingOptions.com).
  3. Recognize that options 1 and 2 may be difficult because the other spouse may be what professionals call “The Reluctant Spouse”. When this is the case, be sure the professional with whom you work is familiar working with and winning over The Reluctant Spouse.

Good luck,

Anthony 

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

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A Question Often Asked – Will I have to pay both child support and alimony?

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

Generally, alimony will not be granted where total family income does not exceed $250,000.00.

Over this amount, the judge first determines if there is a need for alimony. To do this, the judge considers the income of each party. (The person receiving child support includes it in their income. The person paying support deducts it from their income.)

The judge then determines the reasonable need of each party and if each party’s income covers need. Need is based upon the standard of living of the parties when they were living together.

If income does not cover need, the judge will try to divide the total income so that each party can meet their respective need. When there is not enough money to meet respective need, the judge will have the parties share the deficit. The judge will consider certain guidelines in doing this.

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ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

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© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce Through Mediation?

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

The time it takes to get “through” the Mediation Process initially depends on whether or not each party returns a properly completed Probate and Family Court Financial Statement. The Mediator needs a correct Financial Statement for many reasons. An insufficient Statement causes delay and increased cost. At the outset, the Mediator will provide clients with the form and instructions.

To complete the Divorce Mediation the mediator will guide the parties through any issues surrounding the three major components of a Separation Agreement – the children, support and division of property.

The length of time it takes to resolve each component is directly related to the amount of disagreement on each component.

For example, if the parties have already agreed on how many over-nights the children will spend at each parent’s home, they have essentially resolved about 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. The same applies to support. If the parties agree with the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and their respective post-divorce financial needs, they will also have resolved 1/3 of the Divorce Mediation. Lastly, if the parties agree on the accuracy of each other’s Financial Statement and have already decided how the property listed on each Financial Statement will be divided between them, then they will have resolved 1/3 of the Mediation.

Assuming a fact pattern similar to the above, then the mediation can be completed in less than three hours. There remains only the preparation of the formal Divorce Separation Agreement by the mediator. (Only divorce mediators who are attorneys can prepare Divorce Separation Agreements.) Under the above scenario, it would take about one and half hours or less to prepare the Agreement.

So how long does a divorce mediation take? About four to five hours if the Financial Statements are accurate and the parties are in agreement as to the major issues.

 

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Divorce Arbitration is the Way to Go! So……

A decision of our Appeals Court, Gravlin v. Gravlin, is helpful for those facing divorce.

For collaborative divorce attorneys and divorce mediators, the decision confirms that arbitration is the viable alternative to court litigation for resolving a single issue or even taking the place of a full court trial.

In Gravlin, the Appeals Court acknowledged “… arbitration has long been recognized as a valid means of resolving disputes between divorcing parties.” This Blog has often praised the value of arbitration as an alternative to divorce litigation; with Gravlin, the Appeals Court stamped an imprimatur of sorts on divorce arbitration.

While arbitration is available to replace a public court trial, it is also available if collaboration or mediation reaches a deadlock (a stalemate on one or two remaining issues); then, it is time for divorce arbitration.

When parties follow a simple process, the Appeals Court promises a “… strict standard of review [that] is high[ly] deferential…” to an arbitration award.

What does the simple process involve? The simple process requires that:

  • Respective counsel advise each party.
  • Parties freely enter an Agreement to Arbitrate.
  • Parties knowingly waive a court trial and submit to arbitration.

If there is any trial court review of an arbitration award, the review will be limited to determining:

  • The arbitrator’s award was confined to what he/she was asked to decide;
  • The award did not give relief that is prohibited by law;
  • The award is not based on fraud, arbitrary conduct, or procedural irregularity in the hearing.

(In my experience, the selection of an experienced, knowledgeable arbitrator will result in a positive review and enforcement of the award.)

For collaborative attorneys and mediators, Gravlin is another reason to recommend arbitration for settlement stalemate.

For parties facing divorce or divorce stalemate, arbitration is an alternative to a costly, lengthy and publicly litigated trial.

*Anthony is a divorce arbitrator, collaborative attorney and divorce mediator. His office is in Salem.

© 2016 Anthony C. Adamopoulos