More people are filing and undertaking their own uncontested divorces in Rhode Island. Last week two lawyers mentioned to me how shocked they were with all the people representing themselves in family court.
One Rhode Island lawyer who practices a substantial amount of divorce commented that,
"They [People who represent themselves] are going to bog down the court calendar so badly that eventually lawyers aren't going to be given preference anymore on the court calendar and we are going to have to wait longer to be heard."
Another RI Attorney who practices a reasonable amount to family law commented that,
"I used to count on about 70 easy uncontested cases a year. This year I'll be lucky if I get 30 cases total and the advertising costs have gone up and it's just not worth it. I have been counting on that every year and it just isn't there anymore. The economy has hit people so bad that they are taking the time to learn how to do it on their own. I'm telling you. I'm worried and we all should be. It's going to ruin income for family law practitioners. Mark my words, it's going to get worse. What do you think about . . . oops there's my elevator, we'll talk more about this later."
I wonder what reaction I would have received if he had realized that I have been promoting Rhode Island Pro Se representation in Uncontested Divorce for more than three and one half (3) 1/2 years for those who have appropriate coaching and get the proper legal advice. Perhaps I should call that last attorney back and offer him the opportunity to learn the extent, content and process of my coaching program. I suppose it is possible that he may be an attorney who is interested in learning about appropriate Rhode Island Divorce Coaching. Who knows? Every other attorney who I've spoken to directly has rejected the idea because he or she "Doesn't make enough money." However, in the end, Rhode Island lawyers participating in the Rhode Island Divorce Coaching need to have the right state of mind. Lawyers who are against people representing themselves because it hurts their practice or their income may not fit the bill. It's not about the attorney. It's about the need of the coaching client.
Just the same, the point is that more people are representing themselves in their own divorces, sometimes believing they are uncontested, easy divorces and sometimes just hoping to save money.
Ultimately, things are changing not only for long-time lawyers but particularly for people who choose to represent themselves.
Here's something to think about. I've been a Rhode Island lawyer practicing divorce and family law exclusive for the past twelve years. During that time I've been developing a coaching program for 5 1/2 years for people to get coaching to represent themselves in uncontested divorces and just when I thought the program was nearly perfected, the program is now being revamped.
Why? For the same reasons I tell people that they shouldn't even attempt representing themselves in a Rhode Island uncontested divorce without competent divorce coaching, because it can be made simpler but it is NOT easy! A coach may help to boil it down to it's primary elements but law is not easy, even in an uncontested divorce.
My program is being revamped because legal standards are substantially changing in Rhode Island due to new and advancing changes in Rhode Island case law and several key statutes. Additionally, new domestic relations forms have been, are still being created and mandated by the family court. Also, new Administrative Orders about the manner in which timeframes will occur in family court cases due to the shortage of staff and budget cuts and make things easier for the court and the parties.
What does this mean? It's a whole new ballgame folks. Even when coaching clients with uncontested RI divorces and other family law cases if as a professional practicing exclusively in this field I need to change my coaching for my clients then that means there is more chance than ever that without enough proper coaching from a legal professional who is used to coaching people then if you try to do this all on your own you have a greater chance than ever to mess up your uncontested divorce and cause it to shift onto the Contested Track and you're in a whole new set of rules there.
So, all these changes are going to make representing yourself in an Uncontested RI Divorce at least 50% tougher than it did before.
You can still do it though and I'm an advocate of your right to represent yourself. However, you've got to do it right. If you screw it up then you may require a lawyer and twice as much time to fix things before the year is done.
Do yourself a HUGE favor and don't screw things up! You may have only one chance to get it done and get it done RIGHT! The fact is, even in the easiest uncontested RI divorce you need sufficient coaching from an experienced, Rhode Island family law practitioner to have the best chance for success.
Do yourself a favor! Accept the fact that you are NOT a licensed legal professional.
Realize that walking into a courtroom and knowing Rhode Island's divorce laws and caselaw, the RI Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, the Rhode Island Rules of Procedure, the Rhode Island Rules of Evidence, the Rules of Practice, and the Administrative Rules of the Rhode Island Family Court.
Yes, this is what we are expected to know as Rhode Island lawyers when we practice in the RI Family Court. It's okay to realize that you need help and that it may cost you a little bit of money. Say it cost you a total of $800 to get from beginning to end instead of $3,000, wouldn't that be smart on your part?
I am The Rhode Island Divorce Coach and I'm here to help.
Call me Now at 401-632-6976 and find out how affordable Rhode Island divorce coaching can be!