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

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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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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

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

© 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

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

#DIVORCE

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#COLLABORATIVEDIVORCE

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.

#DIVORCEMEDIATION
#DIVORCEARBITRATION
#COLLABORATIVEDIVORCE
#ALIMONY
#CHILDSUPPORT

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

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ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

 

© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

FACING DIVORCE AND CANNOT AFFORD A DIVORCE LAWYER…

…USE LARLIMITED ASSISTANCE REPRESENTATION

LAR lets you hire a specially trained and qualified LAR attorney to help with some of what you must do if you represent yourself, pro se.

You Can Hire an LAR lawyer:

  • to go to court with you just one time, or as many times as you want;
  • to write an Answer, Motion or Pre-Trial Conference Memo;
  • to explain things you do not understand;
  • to help you prepare your Financial Statement.

LAR lets you buy from an LAR lawyer simple fill in the blank forms:

  • Motions for Child Support
  • Motions for Child Custody
  • Answers to Complaints
  • Many More

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES

  FULL LAR SERVICES

(978) 744-9591

ACABOSTON@AOL.COM

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

What is My Primary Care Attorney Referral Registry?

Congratulations to Attorney Robert (Bob) Jutras.  Bob has been selected as one of the “Ten Best Elder Law Attorneys in Massachusetts”.

Bob is a member of my Primary Care Attorney Referral Registry.

Besides providing arbitration, mediation and collaborative representation, I am a Primary Care Attorney who will refer you to the experienced lawyer you need.

My registry of experienced, respected attorneys is available for you.

Email or call me when you need a referral.  I’d be pleased to match you up.

 

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

© 2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

 

 

 

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.