A Rhode Island man called me on Thursday. The man wanting to know what price I charged for handling a simple uncontested Rhode Island divorce. I told him that it is not quite that simple.
"Why not?", the man asked.
I explained that I provide quotes on a case by case basis after a one hour hour coaching and case evaluation session.
"What?!?", the man stated angrily.
I calmly explained that I have a one hour coaching session with each prospective client to ask the necessary questions, advise the person of their legal rights and alternatives, coach the person on the approaches that could be taken, and evaluate their case if they should decide to ask me to represent them.
This Rhode Island gentleman proceeded to argue with me. "It should be no big deal to give me a price for an uncontested divorce. They should all be pretty much the same. You lawyers are all alike!", the man was clearly angry.
Apparently the man had called several other Rhode Island lawyers about uncontested divorce prices and they were not willing to provide prices for their services over the telephone and urged him to make an appointment.
I could certainly understand the man's frustration. However, I wasn't appreciating the fact that this man was directing his anger at me. I was willing to tell him about my coaching program since that is a set fee service but the man wasn't interested.
It was apparent that the man not searching for a "skilled" Rhode Island divorce lawyer. Instead he was looking for a "cheap" lawyer who would just stand by him at the hearing and protect him.
As the man continued to talk, he stated that he didn't see what the big deal about all about. He insisted his case was straight-forward.
As the man talked, he quickly laid out a few of the circumstances surrounding his marriage. It went something like this.
Man: "We've been married six (6) years. I'm in the military but I'm a Rhode Island resident. My wife had an affair with some guy and had two kids while I was deployed. We agree on everything. We just want it over quick. It's that easy."
I tried to explain to the man that I get calls from dozens of people every month telling me how easy their case is, that it's uncontested, and that it shouldn't cost anything at all. I tried to get this fellow to understand that every divorce is not the same and that 9 times out of 10 times the so-called "uncontested divorces" are not as simple as people think.
The man refused to believe that his case could be any more complicated than an attorney spending an hour or two.
Ultimately my response about his "clear" uncontested Rhode Island Divorce took on a different form. It went something like this:
Attorney Pearsall: "Well, I've been talking to you only for about 3 minutes now and I know of several issues you may not be aware of just from the small amount of information you've provided. For instance, are you aware that under Rhode Island law there is a presumption that any children born while you are still married to your wife are YOURS!"The man was quiet.
Attorney Pearsall: "Your wife hasn't been trustworthy about your marriage. Can you imagine what would happen if she were to appear before the Rhode Island Family Court and request that you pay child support for these children?"
Man: "Well, that ain't gonna happen."
Attorney Pearsall: "Are you sure? I can tell you that if a Rhode Island Family Court Judge orders you to pay child support for those two kids, then you had better pay it, or you should be prepared to potentially spend some time in the Adult Correctional Institution."
Man: "That's ridiculous. So she screws around and has two kids with some other guy and I have to pay for them? That would never happen. I'll just ask my wife who the father is. She'll have to tell the court I'm not the father and that will be the end of it, right?"
The man paused and waited for an answer. As the man waited for answers. I decided to show him how simple his divorce might not be!
Attorney Pearsall: "That's the question. Is that all it takes? Do you know if you need the birth certificate for these kids as proof? Or does the father of these kids have to testify? Your wife hasn't been very honest with you so far. What if she lies to the court? Or what if she doesn't say anything at all? What if she says she doesn't know if you are the father or not?"
"Do you have a written agreement that she's willing to waive alimony permanently? Or what about your military benefits, do you know if your wife qualifies for benefits or if she's going to waive them?"
I stopped talking so the Rhode Island military man could respond.
After I stopped talking for quite a while the man spoke up.
Man: "Well, what are the answers all these questions?"
Attorney Pearsall: "That's my point! You don't know. You've spent only a few minutes talking with me and I've already identified numerous questions that you want the answers to. That's why having an experienced Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer coach you or represent you is so important."
The man clearly got the point.
Man: "Okay, I get it. But I don't have much of a budget."\
Attorney Pearsall: "That's exactly why I created my divorce coaching program. It costs less and you get the answers to these questions and much more to protect yourself. It's a good way to help insure that your divorce goes smoothly."
Man: "I'll consider it and call you back if I decide to use you."
Suddenly, without any thanks at all the man hung up.
The point is simple. Your divorce may look simple to you. However, you are not a divorce lawyer in Rhode Island. I could spend several lifetimes trying to master all the Rhode Island divorce issues and still not cover everything.
It's better to be wise and to remember that often times things are never as simple as they seem. A trained legal professional with expertise in the area of divorce and family law will probably spot problems you might never notice.
In any divorce situation you want to find and prepare for issues before your divorce hearing. You do not want to discover the problems after your divorce is done when it may be too late to do anything about it.
It is important to find as many issues as you can before it is too late to do anything about them. It doesn't always have to be costly. Sometimes a good divorce coach is all you need. At other times, you need a professional by your side every step of the way.
Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
Rhode Island's Full-Time Divorce* Lawyer is Now
Rhode Island's Only Divorce and Family Law Coach!!
Discover the Tremendous Benefits You Receive by
Participating in Family Law Coaching Sessions!
Call (401) 632-6976 Now
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Copyright 2009 to Present. Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
Offering Rhode Island Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Coaching for a New Millenium!
* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.
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