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July 2008

Understanding Your Engagement Ring in a Rhode Island Divorce Proceeding!

Engagement rings in Rhode Island Divorce proceedings are not typically a source of contention between the spouses.   Typically an engagement ring is not considered a marital asset. Therefore it is not subject to the Rhode Island family court's power of equitable distribution (i.e. power to divide the marital portion of assets between the divorcing parties).  In fact, the vast majority of cases where the wife's engagement ring is seriously debated occurs usually when the engagement ring has a substantial value and something changed about to the ring after the marriage.

The theory is understandable.  A marriage is a contract though it is seldom seen in that light by the parties.  For instance, when a man asks a woman to marry him and offers an engagement ring, the ring is the consideration for one contract.  In that case, the man is asks the woman to marry him and offers the ring to essentially "seal the deal" so to speak.  However, it then falls to the woman to decide if she will say "yes" and accept the offered ring.  If the woman says "yes" and accepts the offered ring, then a contract has been formed.  The man has made and offer and in return for that offer has asked for a promise that she will marry him and an acceptance of the ring.

Let's assume that the man no longer wants to marry the woman and changes his mind.  The man has now broken the engagement contract.  If he demands the ring back, the woman has no obligation to return the ring so long as she has still been prepared to marry the man and hold up her end of the "bargain."

However, if the woman no longer wants to marry the man and changes her mind, she is obligated to return the ring because she has broken their engagement contract and she is generally not allowed to profit from her own breach of the engagement contract which is exactly what would occur if she were to break the engagement contract AND keep the man's offered ring as well.  If it were otherwise, this would lead to women accepting men's proposals just to get the ring and not because they even intended to marry the man and simply tell the man she has changed her mind shortly thereafter and keep the ring.

When a marriage occurs, it is a separate and distinct contract made at the time of the ceremony where both parties perform as they promised rather than simply exchanging an offer for a promise.  In that case the wedding rings themselves seal that contract of marriage as well as the promises they make to each other for the duration of the marriage. 

Therefore, if nothing happens to the engagement ring during the marriage, it should be considered pre-marital or at least non-marital in nature because it existed and belonged to the woman before the marriage contract was formed.  Thus, it should not be within the power of the Rhode Island Divorce and Family Court to distribute it.  It was the woman's property before the marriage and simply wearing the ring during the marriage does not make it marital in nature.

The issue arises when something happens to the ring during the marriage.  Consider for example that a stone in the ring becomes chipped and as a result it loses value.  Let's say that marital income from either the husband, wife or both is used to purchase homeowner's insurance.  Now, if an insurance claim is made for the damage to the ring and funds received from that claim are used to replace that stone (i.e. diamond, etc. . ) now, marital funds have been used to repair or replace a part of the ring.  Once marital funds are used in any way on the ring, the previously pre-marital ring now is commingled with marital income (which is a marital asset) and they now convert the character of the ring from pre-marital to marital.

Other arguable examples that would change the ring to a marital character are:

1)  Adding new stones using marital income.
2)  Fixing the setting using marital income.
3)  Pledging the ring as collateral for something marital being purchased as a couple.

Authored By:

  Christopher A. Pearsall
Money Making Entrepreneur and Attorney-at-Law
70 Dogwood Drive, Suite 304
West Warwick, RI 02893

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DCYF Under Attack - A Diversion from Divorce Tips!

Today I diverge from my normal Rhode Island divorce tips after discovering a rather unique writing that I felt strongly about responding too.

Please read the publication at

http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/therapeutic-jurisprudence-in-Rhode-Island.pdf

It is easiest to copy and paste this link into your browser.  It is a PDF download.

** Response **

As a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Lawyer I make it my business to remain informed and to inform the public regarding Divorce and Family Law fundamentals.

As a quick exercise I Googled a colleague's name, Attorney Norbara Octeau.  Imagine my surprise to find an alleged Press Release by the "Parenting Project" by the Retired Methodist Reverend Anne Grant. 

Previously I was aware that Attorney Octeau was a DCYF hearing officer though this was an aspect of her legal career that I chose to remain separate from, I co-authored an article with Attorney Octeau regarding the family court, fathers and aspects of motherhood.

I searched the PDF file I asked you to read for the name "Octeau" just to see how many times my colleague was noted to see whether it might be worth reading.  Imagine my surprise to find my own name in a footnote by Anne Grant in this "Press Release".  Finding my own name in the footnote prompted my curiosity as to its context so I read the document.

I am not familiar with the specific case that Anne Grant refers to simply because it is not precedent for future cases to be argued on and I was not counsel nor was I involved in any way shape or form in that case.  Therefore, it would be improper for me to comment upon that case and its specifics. 

However, it is clear that to some extent Reverend Anne Grant has engaged in mere personal speculation and commentary on this subject without knowledge of all the facts, all the procedures, the rules of law, the standards of evidence, notice requirements, and all the information not simply available in a case but information that may be considered credible and/or admissible.

Having represented both men and women, and in every instance I strived to protect the minor children of the relationship, I am well aware that attorneys represent a party and that they have a duty to represent that party.  We are, in fact, ethically bound to do so zealously, to the best of our ability within the bounds of our professional ethical mandates. 

Yet in this Press Release it is clear that it is neither an attorney, nor a guardian ad litem, nor a judge or a court, nor a parent but rather a third party . . . Anne Grant who presents in a biased fashion her own agenda and opinions.

We all have beliefs as to the truth or falsity of information we receive.  Each of us gauges the information we receive not in a vacuum but in the context of our own experience, what we have observed on a social level, what we have learned on an educational level, and our lifetime exposure to people, events and so on.

Anne Grant's press release presupposes that our experience and our beliefs must mirror hers.  Whether she or anyone else wishes to admit it, there is a conclusion underlying her allegedly official report/press release. 

First, there is the characterization that this is "a Press Release", thereby giving it more veracity than if it were merely an opinion based article released by Anne Grant under her own name without a fancy letterhead. 

In truth, anyone can create a letterhead or impressive looking graphic and can entitle anything a "Press Release" to express their views. 

It should be considered when reading such a publication that Anne Grant seemingly cloaks herself in what is on its face a cause worth championing.  Yet she does so using an organizational name and graphic that consume nearly 1/3rd of the first page of the document and are designed to entice others to her way of thinking. 

It is no less notable that Anne Grant chooses to call this a "Press Release" and refer to it as an Official Report in an effort to bolster credibility for her own personal views and opinions when it is nothing more than a writing that anyone could pay money to publish in numerous locations on the internet simply by titling it a "Press Release".

In essence, this Press Release of Anne Grant may amount to nothing more than two words printed with a little extra ink or toner to create a bold font.  Otherwise, it is merely opinion which the writer seeks to substantiate with quotes and documentation which may well be taken out of context.

As for the "Official" nature of the publication, it appears even less "official" than the Official Special Anniversary Edition Superman Comic Book Released by DC Comics simply because DC Comics is the owner and publisher of the information. 

Except in the case of DC Comics, there is actually a legally copyrighted figure and trademarked symbol that has a presence, substantial value and intellectual property rights owned by DC Comics that actually lends more credence to its "official" nature than Anne Grant's Press Release and Official Report.

What I found offensive in Anne Grant's Press Release as it relates to me is the implication that the article Co-Authored by myself and Attorney Norbara Octeau somehow gives an indication that the article was either improper, revised or an attempt to cover-up some sort of impropriety.   We each have our own thoughts and opinions.  Anne Grant seems to imply that Attorney Norbara Octeau was not impartial, objective nor neutral when acting in her capacity as a hearing officer for the Division of Children, Youth and Families. 

Articles, especially blog articles are written to inform and sometimes intentionally to challenge the public.  At times controversy is good to provoke thought, education, and to uncover different points of view by responses from the public.  Clearly Anne Grant does not consider this factor when reading the article.  She certainly didn't deem it worth commenting on because she didn't bother to use the comment feature to respond to the article.  Nor does she consider that even if opinions of the writers were truly reflected in their writings, this does not mean that these thoughts and opinions are carried over to official duties which may be bound by rules of procedure and evidentiary guidelines.  Professionals often extricate themselves and their personal views and keep them separate from the work that they do.  Lawyers, Judges, Psychologists and even those within religious callings often suppress their desire to judge, criticize and chastise when persons come before them that are not acting in line with their own moral convictions.  Instead, they let their professional judgment, their training and their intellect lead them along a path that encourages and helps and promotes the human person, the human spirit and the human condition.

Anne Grant seemingly takes pot shots at everyone in the mix involved in this particular case.  She wants to blame the DCYF for lax policies and poor policing of hearing officers.  She wants to blame hearing officers for lack of neutrality in decision-making.  Yet there is not a shred of evidence that Attorney Octeau was not objective and neutral when hearing this matter.  Anne Grant merely uses implication drawn together by her own conclusions, none of which are substantiated by anything other than conjecture, speculation and implication. 

Of note is the picture she paints of herself as the only just and righteous person coming before the court to face the devil's advocates "so to speak" of the Defendant's Family Law Attorney, Deborah Tate, his criminal Attorney Lise Geshite (no mention is made that this is not unusual when serious accusations are made as to a man or a woman).  The guardian ad litem, Attorney Lise Iwon is depicted as part of the judicial machinery appointed by the court and only out for her own monetary gain and without consideration for her obligations as an attorney and merely yielding a rubber stamp for the hearing officer's decision.

It is no surprise that Anne Grant uses a 3 year old child's picture of the alleged "sausage games" and a detailed rendition that sounds more like an adult's leading concoction than a true factual accounting to boister her conviction that this father is a molester.  The defendant father may have been indicated for sexual abuse or molestation by DCYF, yet there is a reason for rights to challenge findings and  indication, and even a family court's decision.  The reason?  Mistakes can be made and review processes are necessary at times to correct those mistakes if found to be so.

Anne Grant justifies her article, her attack on DCYF, Attorney Octeau, the Defendant's Attorneys, the Guardian Ad Litem, and the Rhode Island Family Court by attacking Dr. Gardner, the presumed founder and proponent of PAS "Parent Alienation Syndrome", a syndrome which is not recognized in the mental health community as a valid syndrome with identifiable symptoms subject to proper diagnosis.  Anne Grant presumes that every reference to "parental alienation" by anyone and by any document is synonymous with Dr. Gardner's Parental Alienation Syndrome.  This is a critical mistake.  It is one thing to say that PAS is not a mental health condition or syndrome recognized by the medical community.  It is totally another thing to say that "parental alienation" itself does not exist.

In fact, whether Anne Grant wishes to acknowledge it or not, parental alienation (note the lack of the word "syndrome") occurs frequently.  Perhaps if Anne Grant were on the other side of the coin she might understand better what may often occur in these situations rather than what she thinks occurs based only upon her own experience and views.

Some years ago my office represented a man accused by DCYF and the State Police of sexually penetrating his 4 year old daughter.  He had two daughters at the time.  The second daughter was 8 years old and made one brief statement which seemingly backed up her younger sister's story.  The father had just filed for divorce thirty (30) days before and the mother of the children had been served with the divorce complaint ten (10) days before the allegations were made by the mother.  Neither the DCYF nor the State Police took the matter lightly.  The man was immediately arrested, incarcerated and held without bail despite the lack of any criminal past, no history of sexual abuse in his family or to himself and without anything other than a 4 year old child's statement. 

The prosecutor was incensed by the allegations and dragged out the man's incarceration while discovery requests were made.  The prosecutor made disclosures, none of which were helpful.  During the man's incarceration he was beaten repeatedly by custodial officers and forcibly emasculated with batons.  He lost his job of 20 years.  His wife quickly exhausted their savings and before he knew it the home that had been in his family for three (3) generations was foreclosed upon and lost.   He was ordered to undergo psychological testing and analysis by the prosecution's psychologist who assumed that he had violated his daughter in the manner alleged. 

This father was prohibited from talking to or seeing either of his daughters.  His own family disowned him and wanted nothing to do with him for fear that local activists would take action against them due to the publicity given the case and his assumption of guilt by the media.

Suddenly a discovery was made.  On the date of the first allegation, the prosecutor immediately took the minor child to the local hospital and had the child examined for any invasion of the child's private parts of any sort including a rape profile.  Nothing was left out.  This was not disclosed by the prosecutor.  It was only disclosed by accident when the hospital released the report on a direct request from our office.  The report was conclusive by two physicians that the little girl's account could not be correct as she described it.  This little girl had not been penetrated in any way (by anyone) and two doctors concurred as to that fact within hours that the alleged penetration occurred.  Based upon this report, an order was obtained for the father's attorneys to speak with the 8 year old daughter in the presence of an agreed upon psychologist to protect the child's well-being.

To make a long story short, the 8 year old spoke with me.  I told her that the doctors said that her dad had not done anything to her sister.  The 8 year old began to cry.  She kept saying "I know.  I'm so sorry."  I let her cry for a while and the psychologist sat on the edge of his seat telling her it was okay and to take time to calm down.  When the 8 year old little girl calmed down I asked her how she knew.  She said, "Because mommy told her what to say."  I asked the little girl, your mommy told who to say what.  She started to well up with tears again.  She told ***** (her 4 year old little sister) over and over that she had to tell everyone that daddy had wanted to play a game with her and put his pee-pee in her because mommy wouldn't play that game.  The older sister said that mommy told her sister to say this over and over for days and days.  I asked the girl what mommy did then.  She said that mommy told her that if she was asked anything that she didn't see daddy play the game but she heard her sister talk about it.  She said that mommy drew pictures of the game for her sister and told her sister to draw the pictures just like mommy did when she was asked too.  The older sister was very upset.  I asked what happened next.  The 8 year old said that when her little sister got the pictures right her mommy called the police and said her daughter told her that daddy had played a game with her.  I asked if mommy had been saying anything else.  She said that mommy was very upset and that daddy was divorcing them.  I asked if the little girl knew what divorce meant.  She told me that mommy said that it meant that daddy doesn't love us anymore and he wants us to go away forever.  I asked if mommy said anything else.  The little girl said that mommy said it was important to do what she was asking otherwise strangers would come and take them from her and they wouldn't have a mommy or a daddy.

Based on this information a Motion to Dismiss was filed with the court and it was granted.

The father was thankful as he cried upon his release.  He was incarcerated and beaten intermittently for five (5) months.  He didn't get to see his daughters who he loved dearly.  He lost his job, his savings, his retirement benefits and his family home.  He had nowhere to go.  Even family kept their distance because the media was lax in reporting his innocence.

No matter Anne Grant may think, this is "parental alienation" of the worst kind and it is not just this man.  It is many fathers, victimized by spiteful mothers.  This mother in the case I mention lied to the police, lied to physicians, lied to DCYF and nothing happened to her.  Nothing!  She destroyed this man's life because she felt scorned by a divorce proceeding.  She brainwashed their two poor little children and created the worst kind of "parental alienation" possible by portraying their father as an evil man who cared nothing about them and wanted to divorce them.  These children didn't want to lose both parents, so they believed their mother.   They trusted her.  That's what children do.  Children also take the path of least resistance.  They were too young to realize and understand the consequences of doing what their mother asked them to do.  Could it be that they thought they had already lost their father and thought the only way to keep their mother and not end up taken away by strangers was to say these things about their father in order to keep their mother in their life.  These kids didn't want to be alone.

Is this right?  I wonder what Anne Grant thinks about this?  Or perhaps Anne Grant believes it to be justified that law enforcement officers emasculated this poor man before he was proven to be guilty of anything at all.  From true fact finding, it was learned that this was a good man and father who was devastated and had his life destroyed because a scorned wife in a divorce brainwashed his daughters into lying about sexual abuse that didn't occur.  Did the father get an apology from anyone for the destruction of his life?  No!  Did his wife suffer any consequences from all of this?  No!  They chalked it up to her state of mind and said that this family has been through enough.  In the end the mother got placement of these children because she still had family to stay with.  This man had nothing.   Unfortunately, the daughters were now scared to see their father because their mother ingrained in them the fact that daddy would be upset that they had lied.  How do I know?  I heard her say it to her daughters just outside the courtroom.  Now this good father has  barely seen his daughters in years even though he was a very active and loving father.

It may not be a syndrome, but it happens every day. Parents manipulate children daily against the other parent all over our small state . . . for the uninformed its called "parental alienation".  I've had children who are in their late teens who have been allowed to speak to judges. In the past 3 years I could recite 5 obvious cases where the mother or father "got to the kids" before the hearing.  The parent promised the child a car, a trip to Florida or something else they want and reinforced it by saying it was a reward for  understanding what mommy or daddy had put them through.  Sometimes the parent threatens to beat the crap out of the child for not realizing whose side they should be on.  I've had teens admit this to me afterward.   The kids are told that all they have to do is not talk about mom's beating or mom's throwing a knife at daddy after she was served with divorce papers.  Call it what you want, but it happens and it's hard to uncover in every case, many times until it's too late.  It may not be a "syndrome" for medical purposes but it certainly is "parental alienation."  It's manipulation of the worst sort.  Manipulation of children by their parents for their own personal gain or to hide their own disreputable conduct is reprehensible.  That's my personal opinion.

Perhaps Anne Grant, doesn't know everything about the case she is referring to.  Is it possible?  Perhaps she is accusing an innocent man.  Could she be overlooking a scorned, manipulative woman?  Perhaps she is trying to blame people and a system because she has personal beliefs and opinions about the way things should go or who the person is who is guilty but reliable evidence simply wasn't there when she believes it was.  Everyone has opinions about OJ Simpson and his guilt and it's easy to second guess or blame others in a system and those that operate within its confines, but perhaps...just perhaps... there's more here than Anne Grant is seeing.

All Anne Grant has done in this alleged Press Release is to vent her own personal views on a situation that perhaps she doesn't know as much about as she claims to.  It's easy to attack procedures without facing budgetary concerns, political pressures, a rising state deficit, lack of manpower, etc.  It's easy to paint yourself as a martyr against a bunch of bad guys when you're writing an article that may even exacerbate the controversy by your own writings.

Is she advocating for herself and her own self-esteem?  Or is she truly caring about the process and the children involved in it?   Her article is about finding fault and placing blame based upon her own perspectives and her own assessments not about what is right and wrong but rather by substituting her own judgment by those who are truly immersed in this process.  Are we then to trade-in Rhode Island's System for addressing these cases and leave it to her independent judgment?  Is Anne Grant skilled enough to consider herself to be infallible in all such cases?  Or might we be better with numerous people looking at the situation with different viewpoints, consideration of civil rights, following the laws that bind us and, questioning and and considering all aspects of what may have occurred so that one person is not the end all and be all of things.  Consider the result of an omnipotent unilateral decision maker.

As human beings we are all fallible.  Anne Grant is no less so.  Has her religious counsel always led to the salvation of every youth or adult she has counseled?  Have she ever been misled by a congregation member or been subject to a situation that is not what it seems?  Has she always been right in her assessment of every person she has met? 

Things are not always as they seem.  If she believes she has always been right and that she is infallible then you have elevated yourself to the status of God and his or her level of perfection.  If that is truly the case, it is regrettable that she remains as naive as those who do not realize that that parental alienation is actually a nationwide epidemic with children as the victims and parents and guardians as the perpetrators, both father and mothers.

Readers may wish to consider whether her document a "Press Release" or a "Prejudice Release" of Anne Grants own personal views on a case that she has strong beliefs and feelings about.  And is it possible that rather than an "Official Report" that it is a "Personal Retort" shifting blame at systems and persons to justify an end result that she believes should have been reached rather than the one that was reached.

I've had the unfortunate opportunity to see cases in which both men and women have participated in "parental alienation."  In some cases parents go to extremes to brainwash their own children in shameful ways and damage the lives of the children because the brainwashing parent has regard only for his or her emotional state and complete disregard for the child's well-being.

Anne Grants press release

(1) faults DCYF by stating that the unit fails to track credible molestation.  Yet these are credible in whose eyes and ears?  Seemingly only those of Anne Grant.  Even her description of her appearance at court seemingly places her on a pedestal of righteous moral judgment, discernment and decision-making power that is seemingly infallible when compared to DCYF investigators, hearing officers, guardian ad litems charged with protecting the interests of the minor child(ren), and the family court which was not only established for the protection of the family but which holds as its highest priority the best interests of the minor child(ren) as is evidenced by the Pettinato decision.

(2) faults DCYF for failing to assure that its hearing officers perform their tasks in an objective and neutral manner when she offers little to nothing to support this conclusion nor any suggestion as how DCYF would do such a thing.  Individual views often clash with professional responsibilities and there is nothing offered by Anne Grant which shows that any actions taken by anyone at DCYF, or that Attorney Octeau in her capacity as a hearing officer took any action that was in any way tainted, biased or subjectively based on personal prejudices.  Yet Anne Grant fails to point out or consider that DCYF has countless hearings each year.  She fails to note that DCYF endeavored for the benefit of the child and the parties to conduct hearings in an expeditious manner for the benefit of all concerned.  No comment is made that burdens must be met and standards must be achieved to substantiate indications against a parent.  If they are not met, then the indication cannot stand and rightfully so.  Just in the same way that a criminal charge cannot stand if it is not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused actually committed the action he or she is accused of.  Anne Grant presumes to make it the responsibility of the judge and/or the hearing officer to abandon his or her position and become an advocate for either party (or both) in order to make the case for either party or gather the information either party may or may not have obtained regardless of its authenticity, veracity or any reasonable assurance that it is a reliable source of information. 

Does Anne Grant realize that this would be tantamount to expecting the hearing officer as the arbiter of fact and law to violate his or her ethical obligations and become an advocate for one or both parties.  The hearing officer would then have to substitute his or her own judgments and moral standards for those set forth by law or by promulgated administrative regulations. 

This is what Anne Grant seemingly advocates because she is not bound by such strictures.  She collects what information or data supports the conclusion she wishes to support and and then makes the puzzle pieces try to fit into the puzzle.  Yet they don't fit.  They don't follow a coherent and cohesive pattern without speculation, conjecture and make tremendous claims of conspiracy to implicate the fault of those within a process who are bound by ethical considerations, laws, rules and regulations.

She addresses these only on a superficial level and makes references to documents obtained under the Access to Public Records Act only in passing because they do not fit well into her puzzle's formulation.

(3) Faults DCYF and the Courts for advocating Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)  an unrecognized mental health diagnosis promulgated by Dr. Gardner who she discredits and connects with the court and the court system and DCYF over and over again.  However, Anne Grant takes a tremendous leap, and incorrectly so, by equating the concept of "parental alienation" with the unrecognized medical diagnosis of PAS.  They are not one in the same.   Yet she creates this equation to support her underlying conclusions and focus blame on the DCYF Unit, the Family Court and those within it because they do not reach the conclusion and result she believes should have been reached. 

Is it necessary for DCYF, Hearing Officers, Attorneys, Clinicians and the Family Court and its judges to consult with Anne Grant and subjugate their judgment to Anne Grant's in order to perform their duties?  Would this help them avoid such scathing articles and rebukes from a woman clearly placing herself on a moral pedestal of indignation above all of them.

(4) Seemingly accuses all the lawyers in one particular case of acting with clinicians as a team to win cases for their clients using secrecy, misinformation and delay to win cases for their clients in ways that hurt children.

What is Anne Grant referring to?  I know that I am perplexed.  She offers a blanket accusatory statement as to all the lawyers and clinicians presumably involved in this singular case to create some sort of conspiracy supposedly to help this defendant father and hurt two little children. 

Does Anne Grant honestly believe that with all the people involved in this matter (many of whom not only have an obligation to protect these children) that ALL of them are involved to just help this singular defendant, father, and hurt the children in the process?  Is it really Anne Grant's conclusion that this is a conspiracy or collusion among all these people involved?

Does Anne Grant truly believe a parent who has children of their own and loves those children either as a mother or as a father would participate in a conspiracy with the countenanced belief that it was wrong and these children would be damaged or further molested? 

Would it make a difference if it were known that some of the people involved in this case had daughters?  Would that change Anne Grant's conclusion?  I suspect not.  However, it might come to a reader's mind that it makes little sense that a person would not imagine their own daughter in the same circumstances and wonder about the outcome if they don't do right by these girls.

I must say that the "Anne Grant Press Release" lacks foundation purely on its own.  Clearly Anne Grant doesn't know the people that she attacks.  To her they are just cogs in a tragic play that reaches a conclusion that she does not approve of and that she believes is wrong. 

Yet Anne Grants conspiracy theory must be true if she is to reach her conclusion and actually be right.  Thus, it is not a wonder that she relies upon conclusory statements, implications and innuendo to support her press release and its allegations.

What is this "secrecy" that she refers to?  Perhaps that is the attorney/client privilege which has long been held in this country to be a lynch pin of open and protected communication between attorneys and clients to promote the free flow of information and protected speech necessary for that relationship to exist. 

Or, could the secrecy be the doctor/patient privilege which again relates to the confidentiality of health care information to protect privacy and prevent dissemination to third parties who might make such information public and demean and injure a person's reputation or for their own subverted purposes such as to support a non-existent conspiracy?  Or perhaps the secrecy is based upon the fact that she could not get her hands on every piece of information she wanted in this case to support her theory, such as the Guardian Ad Litem's report which is typically only viewed by counsel for the parties and the Court for the protection not only of the parents involved but for the children's safety and well-being.

Secondarily, what is the misinformation?  Is it a finding made by Attorney Octeau based upon the information presented to her at the time of the hearing?  Is it misinformation if the picture drawn by a three (3) year old child might not have been included or might not have been given substantial weight (if presented) because the child is of young age and is, in fact, easily subject to parental alienation by a mother or a father?  Is Anne Grant aware that judges and hearing officers must weigh the reliability of testimony and documents even in an informal setting, if it is presented and to be considered as evidence?  Is Anne Grant aware that typically if evidence is presented by documents or testimony that are demonstrated and believed to be credible by the judge or hearing officer and remain unrebutted at the end of a proceeding that they may be considered as fact by the judge or hearing officer and are sometimes subject to a presumption of truth?

Anne Grant mentions the censure of a judge.  Did it have anything to do with this matter at issue?  If not, why does she bring it up?  What was the conduct?  Does it have anything to do with the end result in this particular case?

Is Anne Grant aware that neither a judge nor the family court as a whole want bad press?  Wouldn't the judge take extra care thereafter to make sure the case was closely looked at if the censure related in any way to this case?  Better yet, doesn't it make sense that the Chief Judge of the Rhode Island Family Court would have his finger on the pulse of the case and be insuring that the case was done "by the book" or rather "by the law" to prevent any future bad press or any censure that would lead to bad press? 

Or was Anne Grant's mention of a censured judge simply used as a random attack on the judge's character aiding her to reach the conclusion that she seeks to reach, namely that the system doesn't work and that it is all a conspiracy. 

Why?  Well, perhaps because the result that she believes should have been reached was not reached.

As to the use of private contractors by DCYF, it is a smart move.  It is maximized use of taxpayer dollars within budgetary constraints to engage high quality individuals who could not otherwise be engaged by DCYF because they would expect a salary for full-time duties consummate with their experience and the legal market.  The use of independent contractors also provides a layer of insulation between the contractors and DCYF which fosters greater independence for the private/independent contractors not only in conducting their duties but also from DCYF but also by their requirements under Federal Tax law to maintain that independence.  This lends itself to decisions that are more neutral and unbiased than you might get if the private/independent contractors were considered direct employees paid by DCYF.

My last comment is upon Anne Grant's mention of "alleged" molestation.  Let's focus on this for a moment.  Anne Grant says "alleged" but what she really means is "this guy molests children."  Anne Grant comes from a background of battered women seeking assistance where she has seen the children of these situations and she clearly finds it intolerable.  This is understandable.  Yet this is only one side of the coin.  There are women who molest their sons.  Seemingly Anne Grant leaves them out because they are not part of her cause.  There are children who are damaged because women make false claims of domestic violence against their spouse or significant other and intentionally use their position as a parent to alienate the father of the child and remove him from the child's life by getting him removed from the house.  Why?  Many times it is because the woman knows it will hurt the father to be separated from his child.  Sometimes the reason is simply to get back at the father for having a new love in his life even if the parents were never married. 

There are children who are injured by women who actually self-inflict their own wounds and then demand that the child call the police on their own father under fear that they will be beaten or thrown out in the street or that they will not be fed.  On once occasion I know of a young daughter who was tricked into believing the mother's wounds were in fact inflicted by the father so the child called the police fearing for her mother's safety.  Yet the woman self-inflicted the wounds out of view of the minor child and neighbors and then began striking and scratching the father so that he would become angry. At that moment the mother screamed help and fell to the ground quickly scratching and clawing at herself on the way down.   

There are children who are lied to by mothers who know that young children are susceptible to their influence and that the child will believe them if they are the placement parent because they live with that parent the greater percentage of the time.

In the example I used from my experience, and I can assure you there are many more, a man was destroyed because he was "alleged" to have molested his child, when all the time it was a ruse created by a calculating mother who felt justified and scorned by a husband who simply wasn't happy being married to her anymore.  In that case, the mother had a picture too.  In that case a child re-enacted as best she could for her age what she drew in crayon on a picture and what her mother rehearsed for her.  In the end, all of it was fabricated by the mother through repetition and brainwashing of her own child.  Here too, the mother insisted this was something that could not have been made up by a child of such tender years because it was too detailed and it was consistent with the picture that was drawn by the little girl.

It has been said in a common phrase, there is nothing worse than a woman's scorn.  So, though I agree that battered women and the damage done to children in that regard is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed and dealt with seriously, the alienation by mothers of children from their fathers is no less a problem, is no less hurtful, and is no less in need of a serious response.

In closing, I find it remarkable that without knowing this case at all, other than what is contained in her press release and the child's picture which she included purely to inflame the reader against the "alleged" molester, that I am able to make such comments and ask such questions as are necessary to get a better picture of what has occurred here.  Rather than simply attacking anyone and everyone who participated in the process involving this father, this mother and these children, perhaps more questioning is needed on the writers part.  Perhaps there is something Anne Grant doesn't know about the mother or the proceedings she focuses on that makes the placement of the child(ren) with the father logical, reasonable and the right thing to do.  Perhaps something unknown to Anne Grant shows that the mother either did or had a propensity to or a reason to brainwash this minor child.  Was this during the time frame of a divorce?  Did the father decide he could no longer live with the mother?

Too many questions remain unanswered by Anne Grant in her conclusory report and press release to justify her flagrant allegations about this "alleged" molester, the attorneys, DCYF, the judge, the court, and the mental health professionals involved.  Perhaps the people truly involved in this process had more information about this matter than Anne Grant did.  Or, perhaps she simply started with a conclusion, such as "a father accused of improper conduct by a child is a molester", then took everything that was helpful to her to reach that conclusion.

Was this truly a Press Release?   Or was it a retired methodist reverend simply releasing her own prejudices against men and fathers because that is where her experience is based and it is her cause to champion for women despite evidence that may exist to the contrary.

Authored By:

  Christopher A. Pearsall
Money Making Entrepreneur and Attorney-at-Law
70 Dogwood Drive, Suite 304
West Warwick, RI 02893

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Rhode Island Divorces Can Create Monsters: Remain Calm

As a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Lawyer I've seen it before and I'm sure I'll see it again.  What is it?  Simply this.

A Rhode Island Divorce can turn your spouse into a monster.

Laugh if you like but it's true.  Whether it's a man filing for divorce in Rhode Island as to his wife or a woman filing for divorce against her husband, it is usually the mental state of the partner who is the defendant in the case and is being served that incurs the change.

The tiniest thing can set off the spouse who is not the one filing the divorce.  It can be a call from the other spouse's lawyer leaving a message on the home answering machine asking for a call back.  It can be the unhappy  spouse simply telling his or her husband or wife that enough is enough and that divorce is going to be filed.  The spouse receiving service of divorce papers from the sheriff or constable can set in motion a rage, depression or desperation that causes the spouse to turn into someone you no longer recognize.

There's no rhyme or reason and no road map to tell whether your spouse is the one that will proverbially "lose it" when divorce is mentioned, contemplated or filed.  The newspapers over the years have been saturated with the results of the more tragic events that have occurred.

Some spouses refuse to believe they can go on with their lives and rather than seeking counseling or realizing that they are in need of help they can and do (1) kill themselves, (2) kill, beat or stalk their spouses, (3) kill, beat or stalk their children, (4) kill, beat or stalk a person that they think has caused the breakdown of their marriage such as their spouse's presumed lover.

Stalking and terrorizing a spouse rather than coping with the situation rather than getting the help of a mental health professional is common.  Many spouses are surprised when their spouse suddenly turns into someone they don't know... someone who they thought loved them but now only wishes to harm them because of the hurt or anger or loss of control that they feel inside.

Whatever the circumstances, the spouse who becomes the victim of this Mr. Hyde or Mrs. Hyde should remain calm.  This does not mean that the spouse should not act.  The spouse should certainly seek a protective order from the family court if appropriate and call law enforcement as necessary for their own protection. 

No matter how adversarial the spouse that you no longer seem to know gets, you should remain as calm as you can, especially in front of the adversarial spouse.  It is unwise, especially if you are alone with the spouse who has seemingly become another person to expect that he or she will act within reason.  Never hurl verbal insults, mention past events that will cause arguments or allow your spouse to  cause you to become angry or enraged such that you instinctively lash out or try to defend yourself. 

The best thing you can do is remain calm no matter what your spouse does or says, avoid your instinct to defend yourself or continue into a confrontation.   As quickly as you reasonably can, without making it appear too obvious, remove yourself from the situation calmly.

Remain calm in all circumstances no matter how insulting or adversarial.  Think of it this way . . . the idea of divorce can turn your spouse into a monster and monsters are unpredictable.

Don't become a statistic of divorce violence.  Remain calm.

 

Authored By:

  Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
70 Dogwood Drive, Suite 304
West Warwick, RI 02893


Call (401) 632-6976 Now for your low-cost consultation.
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Copyright 2008.  Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

*The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.
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