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May 2008

Rhode Island Divorce: What are Case Management Conferences?

In the Rhode Island family courts a divorce may run on one of two tracks the "Nominal" or Uncontested Track and the Contested Track.

This brief article on Rhode Island divorces addresses what are known as Case Management Conferences which only occur on the Contested Track Calendar.

What is a Case Management Conference?

Answer:  A Case Management Conference (often referred to by Rhode Island Divorce attorneys as a "CMC") is the first opportunity or meeting on the Contested Track Divorce Calendar in which the attorneys for the parties meet with the judge.  Usually this meeting takes place in the Judge's chambers.  The meeting often consists of the Judge identifying who represents the husband and who represents the wife.  The judge will often expect the attorneys disclose information that will help the judge guide the attorneys on how various issues in your particular situation might be viewed by the court even based on the limited information that may be provided to the Judge. 

I say "limited information" because the judge must keep his calendar moving and only so much time may be reasonably allocated for each conference otherwise other parties will not be heard at all and the court calender will become backed up further if the parties scheduled to have conferences or hearings on the date of your Case Management Conference are not heard.  Everyone has a story they want to be told in the Rhode Island Family Court, but often times there is not enough time in Case Management Conference for the attorneys to tell each parties' story in full.  Therefore the attorneys and the judge must stick to the fundamentals.

The judge is likely to want to know the following:

[Exerpt] 

To read the exciting conclusion of this Rhode Island divorce article click the link below:

AttorneyPearsall.com

Authored by:

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

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

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.


RI Divorce DO's and DON'Ts by Attorney Chris Pearsall

In a Rhode Island Divorce are there any Do's and Don'ts I should be aware of right at the beginning of the proceedings?

ANSWER:  Yes.

DO's

1)  Remember that the court is looking for equity and fairness between the divorcing parties.

2)  Think of how the Rhode Island Family Court Judge might look at an action you are contemplating taking before you take it.

3) Get the advice of your divorce attorney before taking any actions relating to assets, debts, or any financial accounts that are in your name or you have with your spouse.

4)  Keep your emotions under control in the court house and especially in the courtroom unless you or your attorney believe that your natural expression of emotion will not hurt your case.

5)  Remain civil with all court personnel under all circumstances.  The Rhode Island Family Court personnel keep abreast of what is going on and information about parties and their demeanor may travel to the judge's ears and hurt your case.  (i.e. Linda files a divorce and requests immediate relief from the court but is rude to the assistant clerk handling the filing of Linda's papers. When Linda delivers the file upstairs to the Judge's sheriff the assistant clerk mentions to the Sheriff that the woman associated with this file was very rude and demanding to her downstairs.  The judge overhears this conversation which occurs right outside his or her chambers.  This may or may not affect the judge's decision on your request for relief . . . but there is no reason to take that chance. 

This list is by no means exhaustive.  More DO's will be provided in other articles.

[Exerpt] To read the complete Rhode Island divorce article click here -> AttorneyPearsall.com


Premarital Assets in a Rhode Island Divorce

How does my Rhode Island Divorce Judge determine if something is a pre-marital asset and why is that important?

It is perhaps easiest to answer your second question first.  The nature or type of asset that is presented for the judge's consideration is important. 

Why?   Certain types of assets may not fall within what is referred to as the "marital estate."  Rhode Island Domestic Relations law provides that the family court judge has the power to make an equitable distribution of "the marital estate."  Assets that are determined by the judge to be pre-marital are not themselves part of the marital estate and therefore are not subject to division by the court.  They are considered the property of the person who owned the asset prior to the marriage.

The family court judge will determine if the particular asset before him or her is a pre-marital asset based upon the factors surrounding the asset.  Each judge will use his or her discretion to consider questions similar to these:

  • Who owned the asset prior to the marriage?
  • Does the other party contest that the asset is pre-marital?
  • What documents exist to show ownership prior to the marriage?
  • What kind of asset is it (i.e. vehicle, piano, painting)?
  • How was the asset used during the course of marriage?
  • Where was the asset kept during the course of the marriage?
  • Was the asset kept completely separate and apart from the marital estate?
  • Did both spouses have the beneficial use and enjoyment of the asset during the marriage?
  • Were there any discussions between the parties or representations made by the party now claiming it is pre-marital either immediately before of during the marriage that related to the asset?  What were the substance of those discussions or representations?
  • Did the asset appreciate during the course of the marriage?
  • Were any marital monies or other marital assets used for the maintenance, storage, upkeep or improvement of the asset during the course of the marriage?
  • Is the asset insured, and if so, who is the policy holder and who are the beneficiaries?
  • If the asset is insured, were any marital assets used to pay the insurance premiums?
  • What is the value of the asset?
  • How long have the parties been married?

[Exerpt]  To read the complete article click here -> Attorney Pearsall on Pre-marital Assets

Authored by:

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

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

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.


Ease your Rhode Island Divorce by Adopting a Responsive State of Mind

In my Rhode Island Divorce article called "Divorcing with Dignity" I alluded to the fact that when you divorce your spouse you have a better chance of doing so amicably with both spouses retaining their dignity rather than arguing, fighting and bickering at each other simply by retaining your power as the client to direct the focus of your divorce.

The title of that divorce article was to call to your attention as a divorcing party that there is more than one aspect to a divorce.  Divorcing with Dignity focused its emphasis on the damage that can be done when emotions are triggered in one (or both) of the spouses and your case suddenly spirals out of control because either one or both of you are in a reactive rather than a responsive state of mind. 

A reactive state of mind is present when a person simply reacts to something that is done or said by another person based solely on the emotions he or she feels about what has been said or done by their spouse.

A responsive state of mind is present when a person rationally processes what has been said or done by their spouse (which may or may not trigger strong emotions that urge you to react) and logically thinks through the situation in context.

In a reactive state in a divorce situation such as the one outlined in my article "Divorcing with Dignity" the spouse who was served with the Divorce Complaint immediately saw the words "sole custody" and became emotional.  The spouse that was served might have interpreted that in several ways based upon a gut emotional reaction.  The spouse that was served might have thought that "sole custody" meant that thee other spouse wanted to take away his or her rights.  Or, the spouse that was served might have thought that the spouse who filed the divorce action lied and had no intention of being reasonable.  Or, the spouse that was served might have thought it implied he or she was somehow incompetent or incapable of having custody. 

Whatever the spouse who was served with the Divorce Complaint interpreted the request for "sole custody" to mean, that spouse's response was from a reactive state of mind.  The spouse did not take time to rationally process what was contained in the Divorce Complaint.  Rather, the spouse reacted emotionally and made statements to the other spouse in anger that may have been interpreted as threats, a lack of reasonableness, a lack of trust, an unwillingness to allow the spouse to explain and even as an accusation that the spouse filing the divorce was a liar.

Imagine now what happens in this case if the spouse who filed the divorce complaint and trusted the lawyer, also adopts a reactive state and becomes hurt and/or furious because the spouse wasn't even given the opportunity to explain that the words "sole custody" were put in the Divorce Complaint by the attorney who does so as a standard practice.  The spouse who filed for divorce might not feel so amicable anymore.  He or she might now be angry and furious that an explanation should have been allowed.

Now the spouse who was served may have triggered emotions in the spouse who filed the divorce to enter into a reactive state of mind as well.  Now, both parties are emotional, mistrusting of one another and animosity has been created which may prevent you from amicably settling the divorce at all.

Regrettably I've seen this happen on many occasions and in some instances despite the best legal or mental health counseling you can't undo the damage that has been done or reverse the reactive states because they have gained too much momentum in the minds of one or both or the spouses.

So what are the consequences?

One or both spouses are likely to be in emotional states that make them uncomfortable in some way.  It is almost certain that the spouses aren't in an emotional state that bears any resemblance to "happiness".   This  emotional discomfort causes the mind to be distracted and takes a toll on your body both emotionally and physically.  Some medical professionals even believe that extended stressful situations such as divorce can lead to shortened lifespans as well as early greying, hairloss, nervous conditions and may trigger anxiety, panic disorders and even chronic clinical depression.

Once spouses begin to make reactive decisions in a divorce situation, there is a good chance that one or both spouses may continue that pattern and continue making reactive decisions. 

What if we have children?

If you have children, especially if they live with you and are below their teen year, those children may

  1. Feel and absorb the tension between the spouses,
  2. May receive less love, care or attention from one or both spouses as they tend to focus more of their energies on the emotion war with their spouse in the divorce,
  3. They may feel or take the backlash of their parent's (s') emotions since as human beings we often misplace and misdirect our feelings and emotions and lash out at the people closest to us even though they are not the cause of these emotions,
  4. Be traumatized emotionally just by the possibility of losing a parent in their home environment,
  5. Become alienated from one of their parents if one parent has left the household and the other parent's misdirected emotions cause that parent to say and do things that foster in the child(ren) the idea that the other parent does not love them, does not care about them and has abandoned them.

So what can you do to ease your divorce?

This is an exerpt.  To read the full article click here > AttorneyPearsall.com

Authored by:

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

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

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.


Rhode Island Divorces: Divorcing with Dignity

How do you want your Rhode Island Divorce to proceed?  Yes, I'm serious. 

Most Rhode Islanders in divorce situations don't even take the time to consider this question, let alone realize the amount of power they have to determine the course their divorce will take.

Whether you try to handle your own divorce or hire a divorce attorney to help you through your family law matter, YOU should be the driving force behind the course of your divorce. 

Most divorcing persons fail to realize that the hiring of a family law attorney or the filing of a divorce personally is only the very first step in directing the course of your case.

Let's assume you hire an attorney to represent your legal interests in a divorce case.  In this instance let's say that you wish to be amicable with your spouse.  Your attorney prepares all the paperwork necessary to file for your divorce and tells you that you just need to come in to sign it.  You go into the office and sign all the documents as your attorney assures you that all the documents are court forms with standard language.  You sign the documents and the divorce is filed.  You have assured your spouse that you plan to be fair in the divorce and not ask for anything unreasonable.

Your spouse gets served with the divorce papers and reads your divorce complaint.  A few days later your spouse calls you on your cel phone.  Your spouse screams "I can't believe you asked for sole custody of the kids in this divorce.  That's not reasonable.  So you don't think I can parent the kids?  Okay, fine.  All bets are off.  I'm getting a divorce lawyer and I'm fighting you every step of the way."

You are a bit dumbfounded because you didn't get to say a word about the divorce before your spouse hangs up on you.  Quickly you pull out your divorce complaint and read it.  It does, in fact, contain wording that asks for sole custody of the minor children.  You immediately call your attorney and ask why that language was included.  You remind the attorney that you told the attorney you wanted joint custody of the children.  The attorney tells you sole custody is a standard request for relief and it is his practice to ask for sole custody as a negotiating point to settle the divorce.  The attorney tells you that he is sorry but he expected you not to sign the complaint if the language wasn't acceptable.

In this instance, if this truly were YOUR divorce, you would have surrendered your power to direct your divorce to your attorney simply because you didn't read the divorce complaint and make sure that it is truly what you were seeking and not simply a matter of how this particular attorney practices.  By doing this your spouse is now furious and is no longer in a reasonable state of mind to simply sit down and talk and negotiate amicably.  Your spouse will now retain an attorney and potentially surrender additional power to another attorney who enters the picture, costs more of the marital money, and may redirect the divorce in a manner that will destroy your whole family structure.

A Rhode Island Divorce can be conducted where both parties retain control of the primary decision making power regarding what is to be done in their divorce, remain calm, think practically and, in doing so, both parties retain their dignity.


All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™