Who is helping you in your divorce?
It's one thing if you think you can handle it yourself or if you ask a friend their opinion on what he or she may think goes in this blank or that blank of a form but your friend should watch out how far they go.
In our present economy people are getting desperate and looking for friends or new boyfriends or girlfriends who are legal assistants, paralegals, social workers, court clerks, or even friends or colleagues have been through the divorce process for assistance in getting through their divorce. This help or assistance often involves the filing or drafting of forms, wording, procedures, and other "help."
A word of wise to those who are cautious. Receiving help in a Rhode Island divorce proceeding from a person who is not licensed to practice law, regardless of whether the person is receiving compensation for their time or "assistance" is very likely to be in violation of Title 11, Section 27 R.I. General Laws.
Title 11, Section 27 and it's following subsections provide for how the crime of the Unauthorized Practice of Law is handled and how it is punished.
Recently, RI Senate Representative Medina was arrested allegedly in connection with receiving money in conjunction with promises to provide legal assistance to people under a separate business name.
While this may not be your situation, it is similar to the situation of two other people I heard from in a non-attorney/client capacity at the courthouse last week.
Though she did not disclose her identity, one woman openly disclosed that she was a social worker who was very familiar with the family court system, but "just not this part of it" and tried to pick my brain for a moment or two before I entered court to attend to my client's hearing.
It only took moments for me to understand that she had been drafting all the paperwork for the gentleman sitting next to her who was either a friend or her boyfriend. I inquired if she would like my card in the event she needed professional legal advice on the matter. She declined and stated that she would figure it out and that the man sitting next to her didn't have the money to spend.
Even after I explained that I was not soliciting representation from her inquiry but rather was suggesting that perhaps some legal advice from any experienced attorney in the area of family law might be helpful she again declined and I wished her friend well in his court endeavors.
Though I was unable to obtain the woman's name and left the courtroom before the man's case was called for hearing, I was concerned that she was participating in the unauthorized practice of law without a license which is a criminal violation of the law.
Desperation leads people to do a lot of things. Yet while I am an advocate for representing your own rights if you know what you are doing. I believe that most people do not usually know what they are doing. Additionally, help from friends and persons other than licensed RI lawyers who are experienced in the practice of divorce and family law is insufficient and is likely to not only likely to expose the "helper" to criminal charges but may place you in a bigger mess than you ever expected.
There is no substitute for a licensed and experienced RI lawyer in this area of law.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth more than literally a TON of cure when it comes to your legal rights.
All My Best in Your Journey Before the RI Family Court System,
Attorney Chris Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"
Whether you need affordable representation or coaching through an uncontested Rhode Island Divorce (or a contested proceeding), feel free to call me.
Proudly serving Providence, Kent, Washington and Newport Counties in family law proceedings for more than a dozen years.
Call me Now at (401) 632-6976.