There you are. You're at the counter for the Domestic Relations counter at the Rhode Island Family Court for Providence County. You ask for a divorce packet from the court clerk. Suddenly you're given about 19 pages of paper with no instructions.
Well, there's a pretty good reason for you to need a divorce lawyer right there in those 19 pages. Do you know what to fill out and where? Most people don't and for those people whose packets MAY (and I emphasize that word) be accepted by the court, do they have it right? Who knows?
Should you care what's on those pages?
You'd better because they do considerably more than just start your divorce. Those pages could well spell out what your rights are and which ones you may have waived.
Yes, if you fill out the paperwork wrong you could possibly waive valuable rights that you might have been entitled to.
But you have one of those "no brainer" divorces where everything is agreed to, right? Did you know that almost everyone describes their divorce like that? People do that especially when they want the best price possible. Some people say "everything is agreed to" so you practically have to do nothing to the prospective lawyer.
Sorry folks, even uncontested divorces take work. Any lawyer in any case from beginning to end is most likely going to put in 10 hours of work to get you from beginning to the end of the case. It's not nothing.
These 10 hours at a minimum are spent using our expertise to protect your rights with our knowledge, schooling and continuing education.
Am I saying that you need representation? No, but I AM saying that if you don't at least get good solid advice on each step of the process (including the initial paperwork) then you are making a mistake or you are being foolhardy.
Recently I had a call from someone who paid a service to prepare the initial documents for filing for them. The first time, the clerk told the person the paperwork was all old and outdated. The client was upset of course and went back to the service. The person at the service was given the current paperwork and filled it out for the client again. The person again got the paperwork and tried again. The paperwork was rejected by the court yet again because it was filled out incorrectly by the service. The client was upset and frustrated. The client went back to the service and demanded a refund.
The person called me and I explained my divorce coaching approach but that I would not simply prepare the paperwork because when the client doesn't understand the process, their legal rights, and why you do what you do for each step of the process then not only do I do the client a disservice but I would be helping the client to commit their own personal brand of malpractice.
There is a reason for each step of the process in a divorce proceeding. It is not just procedural or lacking legal significance. If you don't understand the "law" of it and the reasoning behind it, then you don't know what you are doing other than filling in some papers.
Regrettably, everyone is so engrained in the fast food america that we want everything fast and easy. Well, I'm not one to sugar coat things to get clients or for any other reason. I believe in truth. The truth of it is that divorce is what it is and the process can't be short cut and if you don't know what you are doing you can screw things up royally. Not for me. Not for the judge. For You!
It's better to be smart and get some coaching from a lawyer like me who has been practicing family law for more than a dozen years then to make mistakes even in those crucial first pages that you file with the court.
I don't want you to waive important rights that you have any more than I'm sure you don't want to waive them.
Yes, it's easy to get married and much harder and time consuming to get divorced. Accept it. Deal with it. Spend what you may need to spend to get it done right and move on with your life.
We all spend money on computers, food, furniture, cars and trucks, christmas presents for our children, pets and their vet bills, etc.... but when it comes to something as important as protecting our legal rights we can't find the money. It really says something about how poor our priorities have dropped on the totem pole in America. Our rights are everything! We only have all of these other things because of our legal rights and what came before us by our forefathers and the battles they fought.
Lawyers aren't all bad and they aren't as bad as they (as we) are protrayed. There are those of us who do care because we've been through it. You're not a paycheck. You're a person and you have real issues and we (I) want to help you get through it without a lot of aggravation and expense.
I'm here when you need me. Affordable. Caring. Friendly. Helpful.
All My Best to You on Your Journey Through The RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall - "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"™