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.

#DIVORCEMEDIATION
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#ALIMONY
#CHILDSUPPORT

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© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

Divorce Lawyer Bedside Manner — Guest Blog

By: Attorney John G. DiPiano (Guest Blogger)

Attorney DiPiano is a prominent Divorce Attorney and Divorce Mediator in the Boston Area. His office is in Salem, Massachusetts.  This article appears with Attorney DiPiano’s permission.

© February 18, 2014

The phrase “bedside manner” is typically applied in the context of a doctor-patient relationship.  At once, the care provider attempts to be reassuring while being honest about a diagnosis.  I find in my practice that family law clients often expect, and often seek, a good bedside manner from their lawyers.  After all, divorce can be the most difficult experience a person may endure.

But, what makes a good bedside manner in medicine is not always translatable to family law situations.  In medicine, you have a diagnosis, and the patient can choose to fight the disease wholeheartedly, or accept the consequences of its progression.  In divorce, clients are not fighting a physiological antagonist in the context of physical self-preservation.  They are either fighting their spouse (who may also be the other parent), circumstances (unemployment, for example), a psychological or emotional issue (theirs or the other person’s, or both) or their own habits or routine (arguing); and often the fight ensues with a combination of these, or other, factors.  Whew!  I recently laughed when an oncology nurse told me I had a tough job.  But, as I write this, I think she may have been right.

In my experience, divorce lawyers come in myriad flavors.  But, for purposes of this blog, we will take a look at three.

(1) The Downstream Swimmer Divorce Lawyer:  These types “go with the flow.”  If a client has unreasonable expectations, these attorneys are not ones to try to manage client expectations about “system deliverables.”  If the client wants to pursue a course of action likely only to add cost without any real chance of prevailing, so be it.

(2) The Social Worker Divorce Lawyer.  These lawyers become subjective and try to “take care” of their client or the divorcing couples situation.  While well-meaning, they are often idealists who do not understand the underlying problem.  Take alcoholism, for example; some people labor under the well-meaning, but incorrect, assumption that they can somehow cure alcoholism.  The 3 C’s of Al Anon are helpful in this context:  You’re not the Cause, nor the Cure, and you can’t Control it.  Subjectivity has no place in proper advocacy.  Which leads me to number 3.

(3) The Forthright Advocate Divorce Lawyer.  The forthright advocate assesses the situation both from the liabilities and strengths of the opposition and those of the client.  In some situations, the stress of a divorce can cause situational anxiety to go off the chart, years of argument, emotional upheaval, family dysfunction, etc., can cause the client to be hypersensitive to criticism or conflict, which litigation naturally entails. And, their jittery demeanor can be exploited or misconstrued as instability or worse. The forthright advocate will recommend that the client seek counseling to help prepare the client for that conflict.  The forthright advocate does manage the client’s expectations, and does challenge the client believing that “friendly fire” is a good tool to use to prepare the client for a deposition, or motion hearing, or trial.  The forthright advocate lets the client know what he or she is doing and that, although it may be uncomfortable at first, it may help the client’s overall ability to cope with a difficult situation.  Moreover, the forthright advocate keeps the client “in the loop” as to strategy, what the law provides, and what the client may expect during the process.

I am proud to say that I am a forthright advocate because I firmly believe that the lawyer’s primary goal is to inform clients as to what they need to know, and not to tell them merely what they want to hear.

 

WHAT OUR CLIENTS ARE SAYING…

From Beth: “I recently had an appointment with Anthony Adamopoulos regarding questions I had about filing for divorce. Deciding to take this first step was a terrifying one for me. Attorney Adamopoulos was very approachable and kind, which is extremely important during this very emotional time. He listened to me & answered my questions with such a quiet confidence that it was clear to me he was very knowledgeable on every possible facet of divorce & the entire court / mediation / litigation process. I would give 10 stars if it was an option. I highly recommend. Beth”

It is indeed a terrifying first step and that is why we make an extra effort to listen and hear what our clients are saying and asking.

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

(978) 744-9591

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© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

 

My Advice for Divorce Month

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

Divorce Month is almost here.

I urge everyone who is facing divorce to seriously consider staying out of the public adversarial divorce system.

Staying out of the “system” generally means choosing one of two processes, either confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce.

If the two of you agree on only one thing, let it be that you will use confidential mediation or confidential Collaborative Divorce.

Hand-in-hand with the right approach is the right lawyer. Not all divorce lawyers are qualified to do divorce mediation or Collaborative Divorce. Mediation requires training and success. Collaborative Attorneys need to be certified.  Believe me, this is not the time to go to your third cousin’s friend’s real estate lawyer.

Learn about Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce at:

The Three Approaches to Divorce

The Three Approaches – Graphically

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES  

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© 2019 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

CONSIDERING DIVORCE? THE DECISION….

The Holiday Season is often followed by the Decision to divorce – I call it: “The Decision”.

For couples with young children, The Decision must consider them. From a child’s point of view, divorce is often seen as the death of a child’s family, at least as the child has known the family.  This “death” can result in outcomes including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

In the lives of young children, no decision of their parents can have a more negative effect than The Decision.  That is exactly the reason couples should take a few extra steps before The Decision.

First, talk alone about The Decision.

“But, we can’t talk! That’s why we’re divorcing!”   Well listen!  If your child was lying in an emergency room and the two of you had to talk and make a decision, would you talk?  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, while the children are young?

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.

If you have done all you can to keep the family “alive” and, still, divorce is necessary, then you have probably done all that you can.

 

ANTHONY C. ADAMOPOULOS’ DIVORCE RESOLUTION SERVICES   

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©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

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©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

NO LAW REQUIRES DIVORCING COUPLES TO DIVIDE ASSETS 50/50

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

Recently, a distressed client, I will call Casie, came to me. She feared for her future. Casie explained that her husband wanted a divorce and “claimed” he would “get” his lawful 50% of the house and her pension.

Casie described in her marital history valid reasons why it would not be fair for her husband to get a 50% share.

Massachusetts is an Equitable Division state. This means that a judge must first determine what is equitable (or fair) before dividing the property.

The reasons that Casie offered in support of her belief that a 50/50 split would be unfair were the type of reasons a Family Court Judge would consider in deciding how to divide the value of the family home and a pension.

In order to help a judge decide what is fair (equitable), the law provides a list of certain required considerations a judge is to 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” to each party, 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.

In reality, judges consider these three factors along with the 13 listed above.

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

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

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

STUCK IN DIVORCE COURT? HERE IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO CUT COSTS AND AGGRAVATION!

Are you in divorce litigation?

Are you having second thoughts – time standards, discovery cost, no trial in sight? Enough!

You have complained to your attorney and your attorney reports that your spouse’s attorney has heard the same complaints from your spouse.  Your attorney suggests mediation or conciliation.

What is the difference between Divorce Mediation and Divorce Conciliation?

Mediation is an independent, voluntary, confidential process conducted by a mediator, who is neutral. The mediator will:

  • Assist you and your spouse in identifying and discussing those issues keeping the two of you from settlement.
  • Explore with you and your spouse various avenues to resolution.
  • Develop a settlement acceptable to you and your spouse.

The two of you will select the mediator. The mediator’s fees will be split between the two of you or paid as the two of you agree.

The major benefits to Mediation are:

  • The mediation is private. There is no report to the Judge.
  • The mediator will provide all the time you and your spouse need to work on a resolution.
  • Experienced mediators have settlement rates of between 85% and 97%.
  • If the mediation is in the 3-15% that fail, you and your spouse may enter a written agreement (stipulation) stating that all that was agreed to in the mediation shall not be litigated at trial.

The major negatives to Mediation are:

  • The Mediator is paid.
  • If the mediation is in the 3-15% that fail, the parties will have to return to the litigation process for the unresolved issues.
  • Since you are in litigation, you must get permission from the judge to “take a time out” for mediation. Your attorney will handle this.

Conciliation is a court related process in which a court appointed neutral (the Conciliator) assists parties to resolve their case by:

  1. Clarifying the issues preventing a settlement; and then
  2. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s arguments; and
  3. If the divorce cannot be resolved, then the Conciliator explores the steps which remain to prepare the case for trial.

The Court usually allocates two hours for the Conciliation session. The Conciliator is not paid, but there is an administration fee, currently $50.00 per party.

The major benefits to Conciliation are:

  • The trained Conciliator will assess your “side” and your spouse’s “side”. You will then be able to consider the assessment in planning your next step, e.g., trial or settlement.
  • The Conciliator does not get paid.

The major negatives to Conciliation are:

  • The Conciliation lasts a short time, contrasted to Divorce Mediation.
  • The Conciliator may report her/his assessment to the Judge and any opinion as to whether someone is not acting in good faith.

What should you do?

Statistically, 97% of divorce litigation will settle within days of the trial. That means, even though you and your spouse each paid an enormous amount of money to get ready for trial, it may never happen (97% of the time).

The sensible thing is to avoid more costs now, stop the litigation, and settle your differences in mediation or arbitration.

©2018 Anthony C. Adamopoulos

Supreme Judicial Court Says Wife Does Not Get More Alimony Just Because Husband’s Income Goes Up

By:  Attorney Anthony C. Adamopoulos, Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Collaborative Law practitioner. ©2017

In a September 25th decision, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) affirmed an often misunderstood legal tenet i.e., just because the alimony paying ex-spouse starts making more money, the receiving ex-spouse does not automatically get an increase in alimony.

In the year before he filed for divorce, the husband earned over seven million dollars a year. The couple lived a lavish lifestyle where they spent “tens of thousands of dollars on articles of clothing and handbags“. The trial judge found, at trial that the husband’s income was “on an upward trajectory” and that during the marriage the couple’s expenses had increased as the husband’s income increased.

After trial, the judge ruled that since the husband’s income was “on an upward trajectory”, the wife could only maintain her standard of living “consistent with the marital lifestyle …” by giving the wife 33% of his future gross income. The wife then, was to share in the husband’s future income – the more for him; the more for her.

The SJC overturned the judge’s Judgment and found that

the most the husband should pay, if he has the ability to pay, is “the amount required to enable …[the wife] to maintain the standard of living she had at the time of the separation leading to the divorce, not the amount required to enable her to maintain the standard of living she would have had in the future if the couple had not divorced.”

          Simply put, where the high income couple facing divorce can maintain the lifestyle they had during the last days of the marriage on the husband’s income, the husband will not be ordered to pay more alimony than what the wife needs to maintain her lifestyle at the time of separation. (Want to read the case for yourself? Go to: http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/sjc/reporter-of-decisions/new-opinions/12240.pdf ).