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September 2012

Psychological Aspects Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers Should Consider!

Rhode Island divorces may be about legal issues and a whole lot more.  Divorces prompt not only legal issues but are instrumental in what people understand to be the dissolution of their relationship with their spouse and on lesser levels with their children and extended family.   Due to this psychological connection that is made to the legal divorce process, there are more than just legal issues that divorce lawyers need to address.

Due to the mental connection many people make between the legal divorce process and its perceived connection to the destruction of their life, the parties in a divorce often have feelings ranging from deep-seated anger to intense feelings of rejection.

Modern day lawyers need to realize that it is not simply enough to refer a client to a marriage, divorce, or individual counselor or therapist.

Clients today need to know that lawyers are not only doing their job but that the attorney is doing his or her job but also understands the personal struggles they are going through.  Divorce lawyers in a proper mindset will work with a client for the client’s best interests and realize that the client may experience periods of anger during which they hastily instruct the lawyer to take action which is likely to make their divorce proceeding worse rather than better.  Sometimes it is up to the lawyer to understand and appreciate this and calm the client or wait until the client has become more level-headed and not act on instructions given in the “heat of the moment.”

By the same token, lawyers need to understand and appreciate the pain the client may be going through and be prepared to listen to the client and his or her troubles in order to better understand what the client is going through.  This is true even if it means sacrificing some billable time on the client’s case in favor of being a better lawyer and counselor for their client.

As a lawyer focusing in divorce law I often err on the side of listening more to a client’s troubles, feelings of helplessness, or lack of understanding so that I can be a better lawyer for the client in the long run. 

The end result, care about the client more than the almighty dollar and you will be the better lawyer for it and your client will have a better chance to reach a more successful tomorrow for them.

All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™  

 As a dedicated divorce and family law attorney for more than a dozen years, I look forward to the privilege of serving your needs.

Call me for your affordable advice session at (401) 632-6976.


To Serve My RI Divorce Papers Should I Use the Sheriff or a Constable?

Question on RI Divorce Proceedure

To Serve My RI Divorce Papers Does it Matter if I Use the Rhode Island Sheriff's Department or a Constable?


The legal answer is that your Rhode Island divorce papers must be served by a Rhode Island Sheriff's Department for the County where your spouse lives or a constable licensed to serve family law papers in the county where your spouse lives.  The only other option is when the court specially appoints someone to make service of process by an order of the court.

The more psychological answer from my personal views is that it is always best to use a constable.  This is not to slight our wonderful Rhode Island Sheriff's Departments in the least. However, in a divorce situation I believe it is a better practice to use a licensed if you want your divorce to proceed successfully to its end sooner rather than later.

Let's face it, seeing a fully decked out sheriff's department car pulling up to your house or your work and a deputy sheriff in full uniform to serve your spouse is bound to cause some anxiety even in the best of circumstances.  

Too many spouses receiving papers under those circumstances are likely to feel anxiety, degradation, embarassment, and anger about the way in which they were served. The anger in particular is almost always directed at the spouse who had them served in this way.  

Yet a plain car with a plain clothed constable bringing the papers it isn't so ominous, threatening, or embarassing and isn't as likely to generate that anger.  If you work with your spouse when taking care of the service part of your divorce process, then it is easier to arrange a cautious and respectful service rather than shock to your spouse.  This can minimize or even eliminate the impact this important part of the process may have on your divorce.

You don't start the process of getting honey from the bee by kicking the beehive, right?  So why kick your spouse at the beginning of your divorce process when they may believe you are trying to take something from them.  

In both cases, if you get them angry they can have a nasty sting.


All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™  

 As a dedicated divorce and family law attorney for more than a dozen years, I look forward to the privilege of serving your needs.

Call me for your affordable advice session at (401) 632-6976.


Rhode Island Child Support - Should You File a Motion to Modify?

Should you file a Motion to Modify Child Support in Rhode Island if there is a change in financial circumstances between you and the child's mother?

Depending upon the circumstances you should calculate the child support numbers based upon the new financial circumstances as compared to your prior child support order and determine whether or not the new child support amount would be beneficial to you depending upon whether you are the payor parent or payee parent.

Lately I have seen quite a few people filing their cases "Pro Se" in otherwords they are representing themselves instead of hiring a Rhode Island lawyer to look out for their best interests.  This would work fine but the fact is that many people don't know the ins and outs of the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines.  So in some cases when they don't even bother to get legal advice from an experienced and licensed legal professional they end up hurting themselves instead of helping themselves.  In about 25% of the cases I have seen lately, the person who is seeking to modify the child support obligation actually ends up hurting their own interests.

For instance, a father may wish to modify the child support because the child's mother has a better paying job but he doesn't realize that the more gross income there is between the two parents, the more child support the child is entitled to.  Therefore, the father may actually accidentally increase his child support obligation.

Mother's who have placement of a child often do the same thing and expect an increase in child support payments only to find out that they ended up bringing the father to court and actually reduced the father's payments by accident.

It is important to understand many different variables having to do with Rhode Island Child Support in order to know whether or not you should file a Motion to Modify Child Support.  In every case it is NOT always automatic.  You need to know, based upon all of the circumstances whether or not you truly actually want the modification based upon what might happen as a result of comparing the old order with the current circumstances.  Sometimes, a Motion to Modify that is not carefully planned will send you two steps back instead of one step forward.

All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™ 

As a dedicated divorce and family law attorney for more than a dozen years, I look forward to the privilege of serving your needs.

Call me for your affordable advice session at (401) 632-6976 and find out if a Motion to Modify is the right move for YOU! 


"Carol's Comment"

Yesterday I received a comment to my article on Rhode Island Divorce Tips entitled "Inconsistencies III".  I deleted it as a comment but I'm by no means burying it.  I think I makes a significant statement and deserves a blog space of it's own. 

Here is the comment by "Carol":

Complain, complain, whine, whine, whine. For someone who probably (if we buy in to the hype) makes a great deal of money (and is a member of a profession that has, at best, a less-than-stellar reputation), you sure do complain and lay blame (on the judge, on the other lawyer, on the client, on the court system). You never do anything wrong, do you? Maybe you are just not competent in regard to your chosen profession. Maybe you cannot get your points across to the judge, and so you confuse him or her. (Or to your clients. Think about it.) Maybe your clients are paying you too much for below-average representation. Why are you complaining? Just do your job. Why are you spending time on blogging (and you are not even good at writing)? It sounds as though you should be brushing up on your law facts, and maybe looking in the mirror for once.

To say the least the comment is harsh, biased, mentions no facts, doesn't indicate the position it's written from and takes my article in my blog entirely out of context.

There is no complaining or whining in that blog article, nor is there in any of my other articles for that matter.  The articles are instructional and provide for the reader insights that I have as a practitioner that most laypeople and even most lawyers don't consider.

Carol's comment on being in a profession with a less-than-stellar reputation makes me wonder why she is so bitter and what she has based her opinion of lawyers  on.  Is it an instance with a single divorce lawyer, it is from the position of a disgruntled client who didn't get what she wanted and was simply looking for someone to blame?

Carol's comment raises more questions than it answers.  The only clear perspective that comes through Carol is that for whatever reason you are bitter.

I spend my time blogging because I believe people should be informed about divorce and all aspects having to do with family law issues.  If you don't like my writing, you are certainly free to browse to another blog or web page.  I will not be offended.  That's precisely what I do.

Carol's comment on my Rhode Island Divorce Tips Site is, unfortunately, an attack on me as an attorney and blogger personally.  Where this comes from is beyond me but it is clear to me that wherever this bitter comment came from it is not from knowing me or my practice personally or it comes from a client who simply didn't get what he or she wanted in their divorce proceedings due to either, matters outside my control, or unreasonable expectations of the client.

I do hope Carol takes time to read an article or two on this blog.  Pointing out a whole, difficulty, deficiency or a place where the system needs improvement is a way of educating and is a proactive way to advocate for change.  Turning it into complaining and whining relegates it to banter about husbands at the local Dunkin Donuts and does it a disservice.

In closing, I can assure Carol that I look at myself frequently to make changes and improve skills for my clients (though not in the mirror) and I am my harshest critic.  Your blog comment makes assumptions that don't apply to me in the least and close colleagues would tell you that because I'd give a person the shirt off my back I don't make a "stellar" or even "moderate" income.

All in all, I do want to thank you for commenting on my Rhode Island Divorce Blog Carol.  Though it was particularly harsh and critical, it gave me time to reflect once again to insure that my practice and my attitude about educating others remains on point.  And if there is a particular "law fact" that you believe I have written about incorrectly, please call it to my attention and I will gladly update my article.

All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™ 

I'm an Affordable Kent County Divorce Lawyer and I am here to help you if you need me.

Call me for your reduced-cost advice session at (401) 632-6976. 

Rhode Island Divorce Tip - Listen Twice as Much as You Talk!

In my early years as a lawyer I tried to listen more.  Then I found that an effective tactic of many lawyers was to talk first and convince the judge to move in your direction.

I followed that novel little tactic for a while until I started listening to myself.  What I found was that I was being rude, unprofessional and breaching what I considered to be traditional rules of common courtesy.

Today many divorce lawyers still follow this tactic.  They try to start talking first before the other lawyer or the opposing party to try to steer the judge in the direction of their client's position so that the judge actually puts the opposing counsel on the defensive side of the coin for his or her client without really giving the lawyer the same chance to explain for his or her client.

While their is a decided advantage that some attorneys gain with some judges in divorces by "talking first" and try to convince the judge of their position, it doesn't work with all judges.  Most judges listen more these days.  Some (and I do mean some) of the older and more "seasoned" Rhode Island Family Court judges may fall into this trap rather than allowing the other counsel to speak without forming a judgment, several of them do not and of those RI Family Court Jurists I am most proud to be members of our Judiciary with.  I believe they know who they are.

Yet over time I've learned a tip from Dale Carnegie's traditional teachings.  It is simply this.  You have one mouth and two ears . . . Listen in proportion! 

If the truth be known, you learn more by listening than by talking and careful and active listening can lead to the other party making your point or argument for you.

Dale Carnegie or his predecessors would use salesmen as the example because in one way or another we are all selling something.  Even when we are arguing for our point of view at court we are trying to get the judge to adopt or "buy" the point of view we are "selling" as opposed to the one the opposing party is "selling."  The judge is most likely to act on the most convincing and logical presentation if he or she has not allowed himself or herself to be biased by the first argument presented.

In sales, a salesperson is taught that buyers have various objections will give you why they cannot make a purchase right now.  Typically as a psychological mechanism the first reasons buyers give a seller that they can't buy what the seller is selling are not the real reason. A good salesperson knows the "real reason" is usually 3 or 4 reasons deeper.  The good salesperson know that the "real reason" is what they need to find and overcome before the buyer will really want to make the purchase.  

Why do I relate this to law?  Because a legal position is no different than any other product but you are merely selling a position of your client.  So how does a really good salesperson find that "real reason" and want the buyer to buy the product or accept the position?  A good salesperson just like a good lawyer will know that you do that by careful and active listening.  The person who "might" buy your product or accept your position IF you listen actively because they literally give you the reason when they are talking to you.  You just need to figure out what it is and then use it to close the deal or get the judge to have the best chance of accepting your position.

Listening will get you more than two times farther than talking.  When people talk, they give information and they argue positions.  What they also do is show the holes in their arguments or they point the way to what it is that will change their point of view.

Convincing someone is just like making a sale.  This is where many lawyers may fail.  I dare say we all fail at this from time to time because sometimes a Judge or Magistrate will have such set ideas that they will always believe that a child should be with it's mother, even if the child has been living with the father and thriving for the past 5 years.  Very few lawyers can beat that kind of thinking that is so engrained in someone's mind that it will never change.

The lesson to be learned from this tip is simply this... Listen!  And do you know what?  90% or more will dismiss and ignore this message because it is too simple and they think they already listen.  

So let me say it again for lawyers in divorce court, superior court, district court and people who represent, skillful listening will give you the answers you need to win a case or get your position accepted by a judge or magistrate.  It is a skill that can take years to master.  

Do not simply listen, but hear what the person is saying and process it.  How did the person say it?  What was the person's tone?  What was most emphasized by the person?  Why are they saying it, namely what are they trying to accomplish?  What beliefs are they conveying to you by using the words they use? 

Listening will get you or any attorney representing you much further than simply speaking without understanding the other party's point of view and gauging the judge or magistrate's response to it.

As a Rhode Island lawyer focusing in divorce my goal continues to be to listen and master the art of listening at high speed so that I can most effectively advocate for my clients.  A skilled lawyer hones his or her skills and then has them at his or her disposal for every aspect of the representation.  The lawyer who merely follows the legal process of the divorce misses the true calling of an effective advocate.

All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™ 

I'm an RI Divorce and Family Law Lawyer practicing in Providence County, Kent County, Washington County and Newport County.

I give 100% personal service and I am here to help you if you need me.

Call me for your reduced-cost advice session at (401) 632-6976.