During the course of my practice as a family law attorney I have represented a considerable number of people in a post-judgment capacity. In several cases I had the opportunity to review divorce judgments by other attorneys. When reviewing the divorce judgments both for background and for the sake of substantive arguments I noted several provisions that were clearly contrary to the client's interests. The provisions also had a substantial affect on the client's rights and what he or she was entitled to at the time of the divorce.
In four (4) separate instances I took time to question the client or prospective client how and why several particularly adverse clauses and orders were included in the divorce judgment. In three (3) of the cases the client or prospective client told me that the attorney he or she had hired had told the person that this was the best they were going to do even if they went to trial, or that this is the way it has to be, or this is the way it is done.
The fourth person indicated that he or she was so upset that he/she didn't care what happened and that the attorney didn't bother to explain to him or her what was going to happen.
The purpose of this page entry is to inform Rhode Island and the public that no family law attorney should be giving you a guarantee of any kind whatsoever regarding a divorce, separation or family law matter regarding the RESULT of any proceeding.
I will tell you that most Rhode Island Family Law Attorneys might disagree with me because it is a virtual certainty that if a person wants a divorce, they are virtually assured of getting one absent some procedural or jurisdictional issue that prevents the divorce.
When it comes to the RESULTS of family court matters, attorneys are not decision makers. We are advocates. It is either parties or judicial authorities like judges and magistrates that make the decisions.
People should be very wary of attorneys in divorce matters who allow a client to decline legal custody or to abandon any portion of the marital assets.
One case in point sticks in my mind from a case I read:
Bill was a primary caregiver of his three sons. He was a Mister Mom and took care of the children full-time for five (5) years while the mom built a career in the corporate world making over $100,000 per year. The parties divorced. They had a house, a joint bank account, and retirement accounts. After Bill's attorney made his recommendations, Bill had no legal custody, received nothing from the joint bank account, received nothing from the equity of the house and signed over the house to his wife, and received nothing from the retirement accounts. Bill received visitation every other weekend but had to drive three (3) hours each way to exercise his visitation with no provision that his wife had to do any of the driving. Perhaps most significantly, Bill was advised simply to waive alimony because men never get alimony. Bill did get his personal clothing and a payment of $10,000 to move out of the marital home.
Bill's attorney apparently told Bill that this was the best he could do.
As I've written about in other articles, if you have a divorce, hire a family law attorney who regularly practices in the family courts throughout Rhode Island.
My humble opinion? Bill got shafted. Bill didn't hire a family law attorney.
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 based on Rhode Island and 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.