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October 2007

Rhode Island Divorce Tip: Inconsistencies Part I

As a Rhode Island lawyer choosing to focus my practice on divorce and family law I've had the opportunity to witness some inconsistencies in the divorce and family law process.  Perhaps you're surprised, perhaps not. Yet it you're not aware of these inconsistencies before you walk into the Rhode Island Family Court, then you may be in for a rude awakening.

So let's be sure you're informed about your divorce.

1)  Different Rhode Island judges give you different results.

All it takes is one example to grasp this little divorce twist.  Judge A in sits in Courtroom 5A.  Judge C sits in Courtroom 5C two doors down.  Both judges will be hearing a Motion to Modify Child Support today.
Before Judge A is a father of two girls, he works an average of 35 hours of overtime per week as a firefighter.  The children's mother has filed a Motion to Modify Child Support upward. 

Before Judge C is the father of a little boy and girl who works about 37 hours per week of overtime as a television station director.  Likewise, the mother of the children has filed a Motion to Modify Child Support upward.

Both fathers have roughly the same base income.

The hearings are held in each courtroom.  The father in Courtroom 5A comes out with a much smaller child support order than the father in Courtroom 5C despite the similarity of their circumstances.

The father before Judge C ended up with a greater child support payment because Judge C believes that regular overtime income should be considered when calculating child support.  Judge A does not believe that any time over forty (40) hours should be considered in child support calculations.

Same court, same court house, same system of justice completely different and inconsistent results.

If you were scheduled to be in Courtroom 5A and then due to an illness you were shifted to Courtroom 5C, would you be upset?

Would it make a difference if you were the mother as to which court you'd want to be in?


Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Mediation: What it is NOT!

More and more prospective divorce clients are being approached about mediation in Rhode Island.  Previously I wrote an article about Divorce Mediation and what it is.

Not too long ago this scenario came to my attention.  It illustrates what cannot and/or should not be done and how any trust that remains between you and your spouse can backfire on you if you're not careful.

Brady has fallen out of love with his wife.  He strikes up a relationship with another woman and moves out of the marital home and in with this other woman. 

Brady doesn't file for divorce right away and tells his wife that maybe they can work things out.  His wife, Gail, has a good head on her shoulders and she isn't convinced.

Brady and Gail talk about dividing up their assets and debts briefly.  Then Brady suggests that they go to mediation to resolve the division of their marital estate and Gail can file for divorce after the holidays to make it easier on their daughter who just turned eighteen (18).

Brady says he'll pay for the mediation and even for the divorce filing.  This sounds agreeable to Gail though she has a bad feeling about it.

Brady sets up a mediation a few days later but doesn't consult Gail and doesn't tell her who the mediator is.

Luckily, Gail consults an attorney to understand the concept of mediation.  She gets solid information during her consultation and is given specific questions to ask Brady to make sure things are on the up and up.

It's a Tuesday and Brady had scheduled the mediation for Wednesday evening.  Gail calls Brady after work.  The dialogue went something like this.

Gail:  Brady, I already know you have an attorney so could you please tell me who it is?

Brady:  Why?

Gail:  Brady, what do you have to hide?  I'm going to know who it is as soon as we start the divorce anyway.

Brady:  I don't have anything to hide.  My attorney is Terrance E. Parkins.

Gail:  Okay.  It just makes me feel more at ease, that's all.  And we have mediation tomorrow night at 173 East Park Place in Cranston, right?

Brady:  Right!

[Brady gets distracted so Gail looks up the address for Attorney Parkins on her iPad.  Attorney Parkins has his practice at 173 East Park Place in Cranston, RI]

Gail:  And what time was that?

Brady:  Um 7:00 p.m.

Gail:  But Gary that can't be right.

Brady:  What can't be right?

Gail:  Your attorney can't be the mediator.

Brady:  I didn't say he was but why do you have a problem with it.

Gail:  Because an attorney is prohibited from representing one parties' interests and still acting as a mediator.

Brady:  Where did you hear that?

Gail:  I consulted a lawyer about my rights.

Brady:  Well are you still willing to go to the mediation.

Gail:  I'll go and I'll listen to what you and your lawyer have to say but I'm not signing anything.

Brady:  Okay, fine.

The next day Gail is served with divorce papers from Attorney Parkins at her work.

Since Gail didn't fall for Brady's attempt at a one-sided mediation Brady just went ahead and had his lawyer file for divorce.

Thanks to her consultation with the lawyer Gail got enough advice to be informed and prevent what might have been a disasterous situation.

Gail is now informed that the mediator is always a separate attorney that doesn't represent either parties' interests yet helps the parties reach a settlement resolution that both parties believe is fair to each of them.

All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™

 


Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce Kits are Problematic!

Recently I was approached by a client and his wife who had a truly uncontested divorce.  At least it was uncontested on the surface and so far it looks good.

Issues arose however when the couple wanted me to work with the "kit" they had purchased online to do their Rhode Island Divorce.

The "kit" was what I as a practicing divorce attorney* would call a standard packet of documents.  In fact, regrettably the couple had spent countless hours tailoring various documents and agreements to their own situation (as best they could) without the benefit of a qualified and licensed practitioner.

Now of course I understand the desire of any couple that is in agreement on major aspects of divorce to save money and want to put through their divorce without lawyers. . . who may tend to seem to complicate things and/or turn simple matters into adversarial battles.  Yet in my humble opinion relying upon forms purchased on the internet is generally a bad way to go.

Some form companies simply don't put the effort that is needed into keeping up with the state's laws, the actual practicalities of divorce practice in Rhode Island and the judges.  All three play a definitive roll in your divorce and how smoothly it will go and without an actual practitioner in the field to guide you, I highly doubt that any form company is going to take the time and care necessary to be informed on all these aspects in a timely fashion and then put them in a set of clear instructions for you.

To say the least I had to explain to the couple that it was better if they substantially discard their forms and retain me for a nominal amount for one of the parties to guide them through the process while they worked out their own agreement and I simply formalized it. 

Discarding the Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce Kit did several important things for these people.  It put them at ease that they had a Rhode Island Professional leading them through the process and it saved them time and energy worry whether they would get it right.

To those who can use a forms kit to take a Rhode Island Uncontested Divorce from beginning to end without hassle, anxiety, confusion and mistakes. . . I applaud you.  To those who want it done right by a competent professional at an affordable price, I'll gladly place my skills and forms head to head with the legal form companies regarding a Rhode Island Divorce every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

But don't take it from me, I have clients who will gladly speak with you.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.