The Strength of the Collaborative Team

Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Collaborative Law, Family Law

The Strength of the Collaborative Team Many people choose to engage in the collaborative process for many reasons.  One of the reasons I hear over and over again from clients that have chosen this process is that the strength of the team is one of the greatest benefits, but what does that really mean.  When you choose to divorce using the collaborative process, it means that you not only have your attorney representing you, but you also have two additional neutral professionals.  The financial professional is trained and has a background in finance.  Many are either certified divorce financial professionals, CPAs, or financial advisers.  These professionals have been trained in the many financial nuances and issues that arise in divorce including the implication of tax law changes, how different types of assets are treated to ensure the best outcome for both parties and how to manage debt after divorce.  The financial neutral is not representing either party, but working as a team member to support the family and generate options for the best possible outcome for both parties. Similarly, the coach facilitator also works in harmony with the financial neutral and both attorneys to ensure that the case is proceeding smoothly.  Because the collaborative divorce operates outside the oversight of the court’s case management system, the coach facilitator acts as a kind of case manager for the process.  Ensuring that the team stays on task, the parties use their time in meetings efficiently and effectively and most importantly manages the emotion between the divorcing couple so that they can stay on task, focused on obtaining the best possible result for their family.  While this role is frequently undervalued by parties, as a professional I have witnessed numerous families fall into the trap of spending hours arguing over a particular issue, those issues are often simply the focal point of an underlying deeply emotional concern.  Having a coach facilitator able to work with the parties in order to recognize those emotional triggers, helps to keep them at bay and move the process forward to a more equitable and cost effective resolution. ...

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Cathy Shanelaris to receive Marilla Ricker Achievement Award

Posted by on July 25, 2018 in Family Law, General Law, S&S Firm News

Congratulations to our friend and colleague, Cathy Shanelaris on being selected as the 2018 recipient of the Marilla M. Ricker Achievement Award from the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association.  Cathy works tirelessly for the advancement of women in the profession and this recognition is so well deserved.  Congratulations Cathy! Congratulations to the 2018 Marilla M. Ricker Achievement Award Recipient: Catherine E. Shanelaris,...

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HOW TO DETERMINE ALIMONY

Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Alimony

In New Hampshire, the court has the authority to issue an order for alimony.  Alimony is spousal support.  It is usually intended that alimony is rehabilitative.  In other words, it is a payment for a period of time to allow a spouse to get back on their feet and to become self- sufficient.  The current alimony statute in New Hampshire, RSA 458:19, provides that the Court shall make an alimony award if the court finds that the party in need lacks sufficient income, property, or both to provide for that party’s reasonable needs, and that the party from whom alimony is sought is able to meet their reasonable needs while meeting those of the party seeking alimony.  This two part test generally is very fact specific.  The Court will analyze whether the party seeking alimony is unable to meet their reasonable needs taking into consideration the style of living the parties were living while married.  Once the Court determines that a spouse is in need of alimony, the analysis then shifts to the paying spouse to determine whether that spouse can afford to pay alimony.  Because this analysis depends a lot on the individual parties and their financial circumstances, there is a wide variety of outcomes that can occur, which does not give parties a lot of direction in determining if alimony will be ordered, and if so, how much will be ordered and for how long will the paying spouse be required to pay the alimony. Because of the difficulty in predicting outcomes, parties are oftentimes unwilling to reach agreement if they and their attorneys cannot agree on a likely outcome should they go to court on the issue of alimony.  To help this uncertainty, there is currently a bill pending in the New Hampshire legislature that would change the alimony statute and would, hopefully, provide more guidance to individuals and attorneys on what a likely outcome would be.  The proposed bill introduces a formula which essentially provides that the amount of alimony shall be the lesser of the individual’s needs, or 30% of the difference between the parties’ incomes.  The bill also provides clarification that the maximum duration of the alimony award shall be ½ of the duration of the marriage.  This bill, if it is passed, is likely to provide additional guidance to practitioners and parties when trying to determine an appropriate alimony...

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WHAT IS A LONG TERM MARRIAGE?

Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Divorce, Family Law, Property Division

In New Hampshire, a court will make decisions about how assets will be divided, or whether alimony will be awarded by looking at a number of factors that is set forth in the statute. Generally, the Court will equitably divide the couple’s marital assets, but how to determine what is equitable depends upon the statutory factors.  One of those factors is whether or not the marriage is a long term marriage or a short term marriage.  Often in a “short term” marriage the Court will try to return the parties to their economic positions prior to the marriage.  Until recently, the Court did not specifically indicate whether it was appropriate to consider a period of cohabitation when determining how to equitably divide assets.  In August, 2016 the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a decision, In the matter of Deborah Munson and Coralee Beal that makes clear that the Court does have the authority to consider a period of cohabitation prior to the marriage when determining how to divide assets.  The Court did clarify that “duration of marriage” only refers to the period of time of an actual marriage and does not include any periods of cohabitation.  However, the Court can consider a period of premarital cohabitation when making an equitable distribution of marital assets.  For instance the Court recognized that when a divorcing couple’s relationship has included “years of economically interdependent cohabitation followed by a ‘short’ marriage, the notion of returning the parties to their original pre-marital position is unrealistic.”  For those individuals involved in relationships that included lengthy periods of cohabitation, this decision is good news that the Court will in fact consider those years when making its division of...

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