A Rhode Island lawyer giving you some divorce advice is great, unless of course the lawyer is wrong.
Keep your common sense on the front burner when you talk with any lawyer and think about what he or she may be saying to you.
Here's a simple post-divorce example from a Rhode Island call I received.
This nice Rhode Island lady had called a few lawyers seeking legal advice before I was able to call her back. When I called she was very downhearted and said that it was okay. She had spoken to another Rhode Island lawyer and discovered she didn't have a case.
I asked her how long she spoke to the lawyer. It was less than ten minutes yet the lawyer had told her she didn't have a case.
I told the woman that I don't give free legal advice over the phone, but I would be willing to listen for a few minutes if she wanted to run it by me.
She told me again what she remembered. Then I asked her if she had the Final Judgment of Divorce and whether she would humor me and read the health insurance provision to me. Instead, she told me that there wasn't one in the Final Judgment. I asked her if it mentioned a Property Settlement Agreement or a Marital Settlement Agreement. She told me that it did but that she didn't know what it was and certainly didn't know where it was or if she was ever received a copy.
I asked her how the attorney knew she didn't have a case regarding health insurance if the attorney didn't know what the exact language in the agreement was. She was silent and realized the problem. If the lawyer didn't have the agreement and didn't know what it said, then the lawyer just assumed that things were exactly as she remembered it. In otherwords, because she was guessing, he was relying on her guess.
I suggested she get her Rhode Island Property Settlement Agreement/Marital Settlement Agreement so that she had the exact language that her ex-husband had agreed to because there was no way to know with any accuracy or not whether she had a case.
I told the woman that she still may not have a case, but it all depended upon the language in her divorce agreement. Without a copy of the agreement nobody could no for sure whether she had a case or not. I apologized that my colleague overlooked the necessity of the agreement and suggested that she obtain her divorce settlement agreement and give me a call back.
In this case, this nice lady was distressed that she didn't have a case. However, from the subject matter of the issue of health insurance, it was most likely a time sensitive matter and it was good that I had called her back. Had I not called, the woman might have needlessly been without health insurance coverage that she may be entitled to under the divorce settlement agreement.
When you are speaking with a lawyer about anything, remember that a good lawyer is exacting gets pertinent documents if they relate to the subject at issue. Our memories are virtually never as good as the actual wording in a document that controls the subject. Even one word that is different in the document from your memory can make a huge difference.
Don't be intimidated when talking to a Rhode Island divorce lawyer or an attorney on any subject. Listen carefully and keep your thinking cap on. Sometimes common sense alone will stop you from taking legal advice that has no basis.
Hopefully with a look at the woman's Property Settlement Agreement and a little coaching this nice lady will have what she needs to preserve her health insurance. Once she gets the document and calls me back my goal will be to find a way to help her keep her health insurance.
Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
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Note: If this article contains a case scenario with names, dates or amounts, any resemblance any connection to any person or situation now or previously existing is purely accidental, unintentional, and is merely a mistaken creation in the mind of the reader.
* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.
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