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Showing posts from July, 2016

Alimony or Unallocated Support: What's the Difference?

Guest Post from Jennifer Hawthorne* When contemplating a divorce, one of the first questions most parties to a divorce ask themselves is “how will I support myself during and after the divorce?” Determining how much support can or should be paid by the higher income earner to the lower income earner can often be one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Both parties often feel like they just will not have enough income to support themselves and their children. This uncertainty can be unsettling.  In many cases trying to find the right balance of support can lead the parties to do a tax analysis that compares the benefits of agreeing to a child support order, an alimony order, or some combination of both, sometimes called unallocated (family) support.  Often times the tax analysis will show that moving away from child support even though there are unemancipated children will leave more money in the hands of both parties. This happens because alimony and unallocated supp

Should Mediators be Held to a Higher Standard?

The more I write and speak about mediation, the more opportunities I have to hear from people who still have questions about how it works.  Recently one attorney on LinkedIn asked me about whether there are rules for financial disclosure in mediation like there are in court .  This is, in fact, a common complaint about mediation; that many mediators don't require the parties to share information that the same parties would have to share in court.  Specifically in Massachusetts there is a rule, called Probate and Family Court Supplemental Rule 410, which requires the sharing of certain documentation in a divorce case within the first forty-five days of the case. Should mediators be enforcing this rule and requiring financial disclosures in a non-litigated case? I know mediators who would answer this question yes and others who would answer no.  My answer is no, mediators should not be enforcing financial disclosure (and I explain why below).  That answer troubles many lawyers be

The Serious Problem with (most) Divorce Court Settlements

Very few divorce cases actually go to trial.  Even cases that start out with both parties intending to litigate, or "have their day in court", usually settle.  I've heard many litigators argue that since most of their cases settle anyway, the court process is better than mediation because it offers more protection to the participants.  However, there is a serious problem with settlements that happen during the litigation process:  they are rushed and people often feel pressured into signing at the last minute. Despite the fact that the court process of a divorce typically takes longer than a mediation, the court process has a lot of what I call "hurry up and wait."  The litigation process typically involves long periods of waiting for deadlines to pass and for the next court hearing and then a flurry of activity right before the court hearing is scheduled.   Then, if that flurry of activity doesn't result in a settlement you're back to waiting. For e