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December 2011

Grounds for RI Divorce - Rhode Island General Laws § 15-5-2 - Additional grounds for divorce

Divorce in the State of Rhode Island can be filed using "no-fault" grounds.  It is generally the preferred grounds for filing in the Rhode Island Family Court typically because it tends to keep the divorce matter more amicable and in the event there is a trial there is no particular need for the court to declare the divorce based upon the fault of either party which lessens the need for the court to hear testimony about the conduct of the parties.

However, there are various additional grounds that you may use to file for divorce.  They are set forth in Rhode Island General Laws §15-5-2 - Additional Grounds for Divorce.  

This statute reads as follows:

§15-5-2 - Additional Grounds for Divorce.

Divorces from the bond of marriage shall also be decreed for the following causes:

(1) Impotency;

(2) Adultery;

(3) Extreme cruelty;

(4) Willful desertion for five (5) years of either of the parties, or for willful desertion for a shorter period of time in the discretion of the court;

(5) Continued drunkenness;

(6) The habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, or chloral;

(7) Neglect and refusal, for the period of at least one year next before the filing of the petition, on the part of the husband to provide necessaries for the subsistence of his wife, the husband being of sufficient ability; and

(8) Any other gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, repugnant to and in violation of the marriage covenant.

It is important that you are aware that these grounds for divorce exist in Rhode Island Domestic Relations law.  You should keep in mind that for each of these grounds, the evidence required order to prove your case to the court is not only different but it is usually also more difficult.

Ask yourself this question before you choose one of these "fault-based" grounds for divorce,

"Do I want to make my divorce harder to prove to the court?" 

A Quick Tip from The Rhode Island Divorce Coach:

Think long and hard before you file for divorce based on fault-based grounds.  Rememember that the harder it is to prove your case, the more difficult you make it for yourself for the court to award you the divorce. 


Need help understanding the Rhode Island divorce process or procedure?  Or do you need to understand the law itself and your legal rights and alternatives before, during or after a divorce?

Call me Now at (401) 632-6976 to set up your Affordable Rhode Island Divorce Coaching and Advice Session!  I've been there and I'm here to help!

Happy Holidays and My Best to All with Matters before the Rhode Island Family Court!

Rhode Island Divorce Proceedings - For Divorce You'll Need a Computer or Typewriter!

What's new in Rhode Island Divorce proceedings?  

Initial Rhode Island divorce packets must now be typed.  No, this is not a joke.  At first I thought it was a bit extreme because it seemingly limits access to those filing for divorce to those who have a word processor, a typewriter or know how to use one or the other.

So why might this be?  Who writes out their initial divorce packets anyway?  Almost no attorneys do that. It would seem then that this new requirement is directed at those people who try to represent themselves in their own RI divorce.  The term for those who represent themselves if you are not familiar with it is "Pro Se."

Sadly, even in our incredibly advanced technological age there are, in fact, quite a few people in Rhode Island and throughout our whole country who don't have a computer, have never touched a typewriter, and simply don't have any money to pay someone to type it up for them or wouldn't know the first place to look for such a person.

So is this an attempt by our new Rhode Island Chief Judge to eliminate people from representing themselves.  After all, isn't that the conclusion that some people might come to.  I'm sure that depending upon who you asked you would get different answers.  

Most people who represent themselves, Pro Se in their RI divorce would probably give you a resounding "yes."  Most attorneys would probably give you a resounding "no" without any thought about it for fear of being singled out in the family courts for the cases they have before all the RI family court judges.

Personally, I don't believe either our new family court Chief Judge here in Rhode Island is so petty, nor are the judges in Rhode Island.

I, however, have preferred to give this a little more thought.  

While it may seem a bit extreme that only typed documents will be allowed for filing so you can exercise your legal rights, the fact is that some people don't care how they fill out a legal document and they don't care if someone else can read it or not.  If your legal rights are dependent upon the words you use and no one can read them because your handwriting or printing is horrible then what happens to your rights?  You might as well just throw those rights away.  

What if your handwriting or printing can't even be read by the judge?  How can the RI divorce judges be expected to sift through it and try to figure out what you meant?  The fact is, RI judges don't have the luxury of being able to take time to decipher your writing.  They are busy!  At the end of the day many judges are downright exhausted.  Some have pushed themselves to the brink of exhaustion (and their staff with them) because they do want to help the public.  However, they just don't have time to figure out a person's chicken scratch on papers that are so important that they should be able to read them instantly as move from case to case throughout the day.

What if you have poor spelling AND your writing/printing is poor AND you have words scribbled out and arrows to various inserts you want to make, etc...   I mean, how far does the court have to go to try to accommodate people with their handwritten divorce packets.  The more time RI divorce judges have to spend trying to figure out just one person's poorly written divorce packet, the more time other people have to pay for lawyers and take time out of work waiting for their cases to be heard.  Some RI divorce cases might even have to be rescheduled because one person didn't write out his or her divorce packet clearly.

In the end, one poorly written divorce packet may cause a chain reaction that backs up the court even further.  Now if you figure that as many as 4 out of every 10 divorce packets may be handwritten because people can't afford lawyers, the backlog created by handwritten divorce packets can be tremendous.

So now RI Divorce packets are required to be typed.  Is it a huge conspiracy against people who want to represent themselves "Pro Se" in their own Rhode Island divorce proceeding?  I think not.

Courts, whether you agree or not, were always intended as a place of respect for the law and its enforcement.  It is respectful and promotes the judicial economy of time and saves confusion simply to require that a legal document be typed.  If you can't type, then it's worth learning.  If you don't have a word processor and don't know how to use one, then it's worth learning.  If you don't have a typewriter or computer at home with a printer that you can use then find a library or a school in Rhode Island that has them.  Even local stores have them for a small price.  There are plenty of options and no excuses.

I would imagine that you would say that your legal rights are worth respecting, right?  Well, then isn't it just as important to respect the court and the judges who give you a place for your rights to be heard?

In my own humble opinion, typing your Rhode Island divorce documents is a very small amount of respect to extend to the courts and the judges when you want your rights contained in those documents to be respected too.

Happy Holidays and My Best to All in Your RI Divorce and Family Court Matters!

The Rhode Island Divorce Coach, Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall


Can't afford to hire an attorney to represent you but you still need your divorce documents typed out?

I'll give you one more option so you have no excuses for showing the Rhode Island Family Courts the respect they are due.  Call me for affordable Rhode Island Divorce Coaching and you can get your RI divorce documents typed up properly.  Call Now at (401) 632-6976 and get things done right.

Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers Tip for Today - Client's should maintain Control!

Hiring a Rhode Island lawyer to handle your divorce should not mean that you leave everything to the lawyer.  In my humble opinion, too many clients do that out of a sense of relief.  Once a client engages a lawyer for his or her divorce, there is some sense of relief to the client.  That's understandable.  Now the client has someone who should be knowledgeable in divorce and family law to help him or her through the process and usually adds a certain level of comfort.  A client no longer feels as though he or she is floundering in the dark.

Divorce clients, here is the catch.  You need to retain a reasonable amount of control!  Why?  

Here are Three (3) Excellent Reasons to retain reasonable control in your RI Divorce over the Decision-Making:

1.  It's either your credit, your money, or perhaps money that you borrowed that is paying for your lawyer, right?  The less control you keep over the decisions in your case, the faster that money is likely to be burned up because your attorney is going to do what he or she thinks is right to protect your interests because you don't seem interested enough or because you aren't clear that you WANT to make the decisions as to what IS or IS NOT done in your case.  Certainly the lawyer can advise you of the repercussions of your decisions, as long as it is clear what decisions you have made.

2.  It's YOUR LIFE.  You can hire the best Rhode Island lawyer to handle your divorce but ultimately it is YOUR LIFE that is on the line here.  Who knows your life better than you?  NOONE!  So it makes perfect sense that you should control the decisions that are going to control YOUR future.

3.  The less control you retain, the more decision making authority you hand over to your attorney or to the court regarding YOU LIFE!

If you haven't followed the common divorce thread I've tried to establish here, let me just spell it out bluntly.  It's YOUR LIFE!  You are the one who has lived it.  You are the one who has to live with the decisions and how they affect your life.  

Rhode Island divorce isn't always complicated but it isn't always easy either.  So what's the point of having an attorney, right?  Frankly, you should be hiring a divorce attorney to help guide you through the process and it's procedures and to know your rights and the alternatives available to you.

Too many times clients will hire lawyers in their divorce cases and give them carte blanche authority to make the decisions throughout their divorce.  

Too often I have heard a male spouse tell me, "She says she won't do anything that her attorney doesn't recommend doing, OR  I'm not doing anything unless my divorce lawyer tells me to do it."   This is even in cases where a husband is offering an excessive amount of money and property to settle a case and the woman has already spoken to the woman about the offer.  Even when the offer is so generously slanted in the wife's favor, I have heard that the attorney did not recommend it to their client.

I can't tell you the number of times I have sat in my office with my mouth wide open as attorneys reject settlement offers over the phone that they know from experience are absolutely fantastic without even having brought the offer to their client FIRST!  

Now let me be very clear.  I am NOT talking about small disagreements that attorneys might have.  I'm talking about cases such as when I tell my client that he should not offer his wife 90% of everything and agree to pay all debt but the client insists that I do so anyway so I follow my client's directive and STILL the opposing spouse rejects the offer because the attorney did not recommend it.  No explanation why.  No idea why.  No rational reason to reject an offer that is rarely awarded even after trial.  Yet even the wife has no idea why her attorney didn't recommend it.  She just wanted to here if her attorney recommended it or not.

That woman has made a crucial mistake.  She has turned over complete control of her life and it's decisions to the divorce attorney without even knowing the reasons why.

Clients should not blindly expect that a lawyer's judgment should substitute for their own judgment.  Lawyers in divorce cases should be informing you, instructing you, and advising you about alternatives, and risks involved.  Based on these things YOU should be making the decisions based upon your own common sense, what has been explained to you, and the very fact that it is YOUR LIFE!

Remember, that the longer a divorce takes to complete the more money attorneys earn from the conflict and possibility of trial and consequently the LESS money there is left for you and your spouse to divide.  In fact, attorneys' fees may actually cause your debts to rise if you have to put attorneys' fees for your divorce on your credit cards or if you have to pay back a friend or family member you may have borrowed the money from to pay for your attorneys' fees.

In the end, please use your common sense.  

Personally, as a Rhode Island lawyer who focuses my law practice exclusively on divorce coaching and representation, I DO NOT want to take any more of your hard earned dollars than necessary.  I grew up knowing what it was like to struggle and working numerous jobs.  

While it took a lot to get me here, I understand that it's one thing to be paid for one's expertise in an area of law but it's another thing entirely for your divorce and all that goes with it to go any longer than it absolutely needs to.  

Admittedly, I am only one of thousands of lawyers who practice divorce and not all attorneys think the way I do.  I'll guide you.  I'll inform you.  I'll educate you.  I'll give you my thoughts and the benefit of my experience.  Yet what I won't do is substitute my judgment and decisions for yours!  I understand that it is YOUR LIFE!  I understand that you need to be able to live YOUR LIFE!  I understand that you need to be able to move on in life without some attorney taking away your chance for a fresh start!  You need to keep control of your case and I make sure that my clients know that.

Whether you come to see me or not, please do yourself a favor.  Protect YOUR LIFE!  Make sure that you don't turn over control of the decisions in your Rhode Island Divorce case to any attorney or to the court. They don't have to live your life and the consequences of the decisions that affect it.  You do!

Find a common ground, be reasonable, decide on your own once you've been informed.  You're not powerless!  Once you have the information, you have all the power you need.  


Happy Holidays and My Best to All In Your Rhode Island Divorce and Family Court Matters!

Rhode Island Family Court Settlement Agreements - Wording Means Everything!

Whether you are trying to settle your own divorce with your spouse, writing up your own Marital Settlement Agreement or looking over a Marital Settlement Agreement prepared by your Rhode Island divorce lawyer or your spouse's lawyer, this tip is one that both clients and lawyers can take to heart.

Future medical payment issues often occur when one spouse looks at the language of either the Marital Settlement Agreement and/or the Final Judgment of the Rhode Island Family Court and refuses to make payment for one or more medical expenses for the spouse or minor children claiming that the language does not require him or her to pay for all or part of that expense.

For instance, in many cases the Final Judgment requires each parent to pay one-half of all uncovered and uninsured medical expenses for the minor children.  The wife gets the children braces and demands that the husband pay one-half of the braces.  The husband refuses.  The husband's lawyer argues that his client does not have to pay for half of the braces because braces are not a "medical" expense.

Another example arises when a child becomes injured in a car accident and requires substantial surgical treatment and therapy.  The Marital Settlement Agreement states that each parent will pay one-half of all uninsured medical and dental costs for the minor children.  Therapy ends for the minor child and the therapist cannot continue because the medical insurance has reached its maximum number of therapy sessions for the child.  The therapist mentions a therapeutic device that can attach to the child's foot to help regain motion in the child's foot.  However, health insurance does not cover the therapeutic device and it must be purchased.  The cost is $3,000 for the medical device.  The father takes out a loan because he wants to take care of his daughter and buys the device andasks the mother to pay her one-half of the cost for the medical device.  The mother refuses.  At court, the mother's lawyer argues that the device is not a medical cost but rather it is aa device or apparatus meant to substitute for a medical treatment which would create a medical cost, therefore the mother's lawyer argues that she doesn't have to pay one-half of that expense and it is unreasonable.

When considering language to be used to cover future medical expenses for minor children when the expenses are to be shared between the parents of the children I suggest using language that me to similar to the following, keeping in mind that every situation is different.

"The Mother and Father shall be responsible for one-half of each uncovered healthcare related expense and cost reasonably necessary for the health of the parties' minor children."

The terms "healthcare related" are the primary terms that should be included to avoid future issues as to whether dental is included in medical, or whether orthodontia is included in dental, or whether medical includes therapeutic oroptometic, or healthcare related devices, etc...

The terms "healthcare related" should be broad enough words to prevent future disputes without the need for further court intervention.

Carefully, examine provisions drafted even by your own Rhode Island divorce lawyer and consider this tip to help you choose your wording carefully.  Remember, the words used in a Marital Settlement Agreement mean everything.  They can prevent disputes or they may actually cause them.  You need to think ahead and consider the meaning of each word you use.  If you consider a sentence at a time the agreement will be easier to deal with.  It could save you future disputes, time, money, attorneys' fees and needless stress.

And if you need help composing your Rhode Island Marital Settlement Agreement or if you encounter any Post-Judgment Divorce issues relating to your RI Marital and/or Property Settlement Agreement then an affordable legal advice session is merely a call away.  

Call me at (401) 632-6976!  I'm The Rhode Island Divorce Coach and I'm here to help!

Happy Holidays to All My Readers!

One Facebook User's Religious Defense of The Marriage Relationship being for Opposite Sexes.

Facebook has become a greater forum for opinions on marriage, divorce, politics, religion and many other subjects of debate.   

Some time back a Boston radio station asked that I be interviewed about an article written by a third-party who made the claim that Facebook has substantially contributed to the increased breakdown of marriages.  I declined the interview.  

However, as a lawyer focusing my law practice exclusively in the area of divorce and family law I found it interesting that the media has drawn it's own attention not simply to Facebook but to it's affects on various aspects of life and relationships.

I found this posting on Facebook at one time.  I did not write it, nor is it meant to reflect my views or thoughts with respect to the subject.  It is a post that has likely scrolled off into infinity in the history of Facebook and yet it is certainly one of the tamer posts that have been made by those who tend to be more aggressive advocates for one position or another.  Yet I found it interesting that this posting has been only one of countless strings of discussions and disputes about the subject of same sex marriages.

The Facebook posting was as follows:

There seems to be more and more posting with regard to same sex marriages. I just want to state that God created man and woman. Read Genesis Chapter 2, 21-24, and you will find that God took the rib of Adam to make Eve and Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."How then can marriage relationship be any other way but the way GOD ordained it????????

[No change has been made to the post.]

This one Facebook posting is perhaps illustrative of one key point.  Many people in life go through life without taking time to consciously and knowledgeably considering all the aspects of marriage, love, life, law, relationships and the overall impacts that one change may or will have on society and life as a whole.

If you have beliefs by which you live, you are certainly entitled to them.  However, it is always good to question them.  If you cannot verbalize and/or justify the underlying reasons for your belief in something other than perhaps a reliance upon blanket statements such as,

1.  That's what I was taught.

2.  I was brought up Catholic, or Baptist, or Jewish, etc... and that's what our faith believes.

3.  That's something we take on faith, it isn't questioned.


4.  That's just the way it is.

Then, you may wish to ask a few more questions to insure that YOU truly believe what you believe for the right reasons.  Keep in mind that much of what we believe and learn is based upon those who have taught and/or raised us over the years and who we may respect or look up to.  Much of it is not by choice but rather by an adoption of another person's teachings, beliefs, or reasons and may exist in you not by actual thought or questioning but simply because it is easier to believe that those you have learned from would never mislead you.  Though it may be true that they would never knowingly mislead you, what if they only taught you what they learned from the person before them?  What if the first person who cared and had good intentions about friends and family was incorrect in what they taught?  What if society and history changed in such a way that we learned more about a particular subject than was known "back then?"  

A search for meaning and correct beliefs, in my own humble opinion, is never an unrewarding endeavor.  It leads us to enlightenment and enrichment of our lives by exploration and understanding of more than what we may have been taught.

In the end, my philosophy is this.  Without questioning our beliefs so we know why we truly believe them, we are all like a chain of people playing a game of follow the leader with none of us realizing that the person in the lead who has been leading everyone else in our chain is actually blind.

Feel free to contribute your thoughts either on the Facebook posting in defense of opposite sex marriages or on this article generally.  Constructive postings that do not denegrate anyone and use appropriate language will be approved.

My Very Best to All During this Holiday Season!