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December 2012

Question about Childcare and Hiring an Au Pair from Out of the Country.


I have two children.  I would like to hire an Au Pair from another country.  My question is will their father have to pay half the expenses like he would for daycare?   My oldest daughter has special needs, and is currently receiving ssi.  The Au Pair would be a live-in caretaker.



There is no definitive answer to your question.

Childcare is factored in as a part of child support when it is for the benefit of one or both parents to engage in gainful employment. The underlying purpose of childcare is so that the children are cared for by both parents.

The question is whether or not the cost of an Au Pair is reasonable and necessary for this purpose. That is for a judge to decide based upon the information presented.

Since an Au Pair may cost more because the Au Pair would lives in the home and she would be present for the children 24/7 and not simply to ensure that each parent can work a full-time job. Depending upon the cost, the qualifications of the Au Pair, the extent of the special needs of the child, the reason for the need of an Au Pair from another country, the amount of the SSI, and the need and ability of each parent to pay for the Au Pair.

If both parents have joint legal custody or their is no court order setting forth the legal custody of the children regarding decision making, then you should rightfully presume that you and the father of the children each have a 50% say in the decision to hire an Au Pair and the details as well.

You should not unilaterally hire the Au Pair and assume the father will be required to make any particular payment.


My Very Best to You in Addressing Your Family Law Issues,

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."®


Serving Rhode Island Families exclusively in the Rhode Island Family Courts throughout our State for more than 12 years.

Call (401) 632-6976 for your low-cost paid advise session to make sure you know your rights.

UnCover the Magic Some Lawyers Use so Uncontested Divorces Remain That Way!

It's a mistake to think that RI Divorce Lawyers don't play a role in an uncontested divorce.  Believe it or not, your divorce lawyer can work some magic to make your life easier if he or she is skilled enough to do recognize that subtle changes can make huge differences.

Imagine that you approach an attorney with what seems to be an uncontested divorce between both husband and wife .  No matter how uncontested a divorce seems to be, it is a fragile thing because it involves people's emotions and relationships.  The wrong word or the wrong tact can turn an uncontested divorce into a tsunami.  Trust me, because I've seen it numerous times.

If the attorney drafts the Complaint for Divorce yet uses a few aggressive words, a demand for alimony, requesting exclusive use and possession of the marital home or that the other spouse pay all the debt.  Then it's possible that as well intentioned as you and your spouse may be, the attorney's language may end the "uncontested" tenor of the divorce very abruptly.

When the Defendant receives the Divorce Complaint, how might he or she react?  It would be very easy to be upset, angry, and less than cooperative from that point forward.

With a little magic of skillful creative language, a good divorce lawyer can word the Divorce Complaint in a non-threatening and aggressive manner and protect the divorce from becoming "contested."

Let's consider another situation.  If the attorney for the plaintiff in an uncontested divorce has the Defendant served by a Sheriff, it is more likely that the Defendant will become upset and defensive and much less cooperative from that point forward.  He or she might feel threatened, embarrassed, intimidated and start considering that the plaintiff is going to try to take advantage of him or her.

With a little magic, experience, and knowing how to handle an uncontested divorce delicately, a good RI lawyer could engage a plain-clothed, friendly, constable instead of a sheriff.  Isn't that a lot less threatening?  The lawyer could even arrange for the Defendant to have feel as though he or she has control of the service process by calling the person first and telling the Defendant that the plaintiff doesn't want to embarrass or inconvenience the person and so "if it agreeable to the defendant" a guy named Mark or Tony (the name of a constable) will be calling him or her to find out what the person would feel is most comfortable.  That way, the defendant is more likely to feel more at ease and cooperative in the proceeding because the service of process was uneventful and respectful.

 Do these things seem small?  Too small to be called "Magic?"  

I would have to disagree.

These are all psychological points that a truly good lawyer will know are necessary to help an uncontested divorce remain just that "uncontested."  A good lawyer knows that you even the smallest details are important to achieve that "uncontested divorce" goal for the client.

Here's the the crux of the problem.  Usually the longer a lawyer is involved in a case the more money they make.  If a matter is uncontested then attorneys makes a small fee.  If a lawyer creates controversy, even by small things like this (namely ones that can be explained away fairly easily) then a lawyer can make more money.

So why do I call it magic?  I believe it is magic to find a good lawyer who bypasses controversy and focuses on creating and maintaining an amicable divorce atmosphere.  Magic often has to do with redirecting a person's focus so that everything seems and truly is just fine.  Yet in the end anxiety and distrust vanish so that the parties can resolve their divorce amicably.

Doyou want an amicable uncontested divorce?  Then it is important to remember that there are many "magic tricks" to keeping a divorce amicable and prevent it from becoming contested.  Over the years I have learned many subtle psychological and practical techniques to help people get through a divorce amicably, economically and as quickly as possible.

The magic of uncontested divorces and keeping divorces amicable is a subtle yet magnificent talent that I have endeavored to perfect over the years for my clients.

With me, clients like you come first!  So why is this "Magic" so important and why do I want to use it to help clients?  The answer is in my own history.  I've already walked the path you are about to walk and I wouldn't wish it upon my clients.

For those who want an amicable and uncontested divorce, you'll find that I probably have the magic it takes to make your divorce go just a little bit smoother.

 I won't say I'm another David Copperfield.  

Why?  Because David puts the things back that he makes disappear.

My Very Best to You in Addressing Your Family Law Issues,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."®

Serving Rhode Island Families exclusively in the Rhode Island Family Courts throughout our State for more than 12 years.

Call (401) 632-6976 for your low-cost paid advise session.  Make sure You know Your rights.

Can I Adjust the Father's Visitation in Rhode Island without going to Family Court?


What can be done about having my son's fathers visitation getting adjusted? My son stays with his father every weekend.  The father lives with a family member because he does not have a place of his own. Not long ago our son slept over and the father's mother tried to kill herself.  Police responded.  My son saw something that I think he shouldn't have.

I'm afraid our son's father is not going to act civilly when I tell him that our son will not be spending the weekends there anymore. There are numerous people who live at that same place including his mother, several other teenagers and another husband and wife in the family.  Of the four adults that live in that house I believe two of them drink constantly and abuse prescription drugs. I just need some advise on how to go about this without having to go back to court.

I cannot afford a lawyer right now, but I want my son to feel safe and I don't think he is safe in that kind of environment. Any help would be appreciated.


You're trying to do something without going to court?  Then you make my job 10-fold more difficult because legal rights are maintained and enforced in the court system.  Therefore, I am going to answer your question including court remedies because that is how (in my humble opinion) things could and should be handled.

You can file a Motion to Modify or Terminate Visitation in the Family Court. I understand that you don't want to return to court but if the child's father has court ordered visitation then you must return to court to modify it. You can't simply decide to change the visitation unilaterally.  If you do, you are likely to be in Willful Contempt of Court for violating the Family Court's visitation orders for the father.

While I am not unsympathetic since I am an advocate for children, you mentioned quite a few things here. Yet more information would be helpful.

Based upon what I have to work with, here are the questions that I believe would be most relevant under the circumstances,

(1) What is the age of the child?

(2) What did the child actually witness?  Suicide attempt?  Police responding?

(3) Did the father have time to prevent the child from seeing the detrimental things or protect the child in any way?

(4) Was the father forced to deal with his mother's suicide attempt?

(5)  When the child came back to you how did he react and what did he say and did it indicate to you that he was traumatized?

Remember that the visitation is between the father and the son. Even if the father lives in the same household as his mother, if the father could not prevent or and did not have time to prevent the son from seeing his mother's suicide attempt then there may not be a basis for asking the court to reduce the overnights.  This man may have had to balance between addressing the emergency of his mother's life versus protecting his son from any trauma it was causing.  Remember that very few of us know when someone else is going to to anything, let alone make a suicide attempt.

If the visitation every weekend has occurred while you were supposedly aware about everything else (except the suicide attempt) then you acquiesced to the rest of the conduct. To bring it up at a later date to prevent overnight visits may not be viewed by the court as a reasonably substantial change in circumstances warranting a change in visitation.  Even a reasonable person would just say that it's a bit late to be bringing it up now.  It is more like icing on the cake to make your case stronger.  

Now, if the visitation for the father is not spelled out in a court order and you are the placement parent by a court order, then you normally have the right to talk to the father and let him know that his overnights need to stop for a while for the benefit of the child. Keep in mind that if the child has a good bond with his father, then you do not want to damage that bond just as the father should not be damaging your bond with your son in any way, especially if it relates to the conduct of a third-party.

As for avoiding court, it can't be done if it is to be done properly. If the visitation is spelled out in a court order you should file a Motion in court as I have suggested to modify visitation alleging that there is a substantial change in circumstances that warrants the modification (the legal standard to support such a motion). You should, however, spell out the circumstances in your motion that constitute the "substantial change in circumstances."

The court if very likely to want the answers to the same questions I'm wondering about at the time you go to a hearing unless you and the child's father enter into an order by a agreement (called a "Consent Order") which is acceptable to the Judge and approved by the Family Court.

Even if you make a verbal or written agreement with the father about the visitation for the child then it is only good as long as the people agreeing too it are willing to abide by it.  Even if it is in writing and signed by both of you, unless it is in court and signed by a judge it isn't enforceable and therefore isn't worth the paper it's written upon.  This is why doing things without returning to court really doesn't accomplish much in the way of security for anyone, especially the child.

 My Very Best to You in Addressing Your Family Law Issues,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."®

 Serving Rhode Island Families exclusively in the Rhode Island Family Courts throughout our State for more than 12 years.

Call (401) 632-6976 for your low-cost paid advise session to make sure you know your rights.

A Major Reason to Include a Request for Alimony in Your RI Divorce Complaint by a Rhode Island Family Lawyer!

On November 27, 2012 I wrote an article entitled "Why Did My Lawyer include Alimony in my Divorce Complaint When I Don't Want It?" in my blog at  The content of that article was responding to a person who did not understand why their Rhode Island lawyer might include a request for alimony in the divorce complaint when the person (i.e. the client) told the attorney that the client didn't want alimony.

 This article on alimony explains more specifically the type of situation that a lawyer might anticipate by including a request for alimony on the client's behalf.

As I mentioned in the previous article, alimony is one of those subjects that if not requested in the complaint for divorce might be considered waived by the client if not contained in the initial complaint.  Therefore, it is extremely important for both the client and the attorney to carefully consider whether a request for alimony should be left out entirely in the divorce complaint.

Though it may be rare, lawyers and clients should consider even the rarest of circumstances when excluding an alimony request.

Consider the following situation:

Tamara wants to divorce her husband, Jonathan and decides to represent herself to prepare the paperwork.  Tamara is a relatively successful graphic artist and has a bright future. She does not include a request for alimony from Jonathan in her divorce complaint.

Before a Final Judgment is entered in Tamara's divorce she is accidentally hit by a delivery truck. Tamara is now confined to a wheelchair for life and her main drawing hand is partially crushed.  Tamara's promising future has come to an abrupt end.

Tamara is now disabled and needs help caring for herself and supporting herself.

Tamara files a Motion for Alimony in the Rhode Island family court since a Final Judgment has not entered.  The judge determines that because Tamara never included a request for alimony from Jonathan that any request for alimony was effectively waived regardless of the change in circumstance.

This is only one of many possible circumstances that can happen that make it important to include an alimony request in a divorce complaint.  This is true even if the person filing the complaint or counterclaim for divorce doesn't expect to receive alimony from their spouse at all.

 As you can tell from reading this article, including a request for alimony in your divorce complaint or counterclaim is meant to protect a valuable legal right that you have available to you.  Sometimes it is merely included in your divorce documents only to protect you from that rare instance like Tamara's case.  In most cases, leaving the language out entirely is not a risk worth taking.

Remember, none of us can predict the future with any degree of certainty no matter how well we plan or how well we think we know our spouse.  In the example regarding Tamara, she chose to leave out the language and I am certain she would have regretted it.  

It may help to think of it this way.  Including the language in your complaint or counterclaim for divorce is not to anger your spouse, it is not for revenge (or, in my humble opinion should not be used that way), rather it is the protection of a valuable legal right that may be lost forever if it is not included in your divorce complaint or counterclaim.


My Very Best to You in Addressing Your Family Law Issues,

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."®


Serving Rhode Island Families exclusively in the Rhode Island Family Courts throughout our State for more than 12 years.

Call (401) 632-6976 for your low-cost paid advise session to make sure you know your rights.