Alimony Feed

Why Did My Lawyer include Alimony in my Divorce Complaint When I Don't Want It?

I hired a lawyer for my divorce in Rhode Island and my husband was all upset when he got served with papers that said I wanted alimony when I told the lawyer I didn't want alimony.  Why would my lawyer put something in my divorce complaint that I didn't want?

I've heard quite a few people who come to me when they aren't happy with their lawyer right from the start.  Yet as I tell everyone, I don't sugarcoat things.  Invariably I ask why the person is  asking me that question instead of the lawyer that was hired.

Divorce complaints are signed and sworn to under oath by the person who files them.  Therefore, if you are person doing the filing (i.e. the Plaintiff), then you should ALWAYS read your Divorce Complaint and approve of the language that is included in it before you sign it and swear to it under oath.  

With that said, there is often a very good reason for including a request for alimony in a divorce complaint.  Typically, the general rule is this - if you don't ask for alimony in your divorce complaint then it is very likely that the Family Court Judge will take the position that you have waived alimony permanently and you will not have the opportunity to request it later.  

The point?  Your attorney is probably just protecting you.  

However, you should not sign the divorce complaint without asking the question and understanding the answer.  It is NOT acceptable for a lawyer to simply tell you that it is just "standard language" and that it must be included.  That is neither correct nor is it true.  

If you instruct your attorney to remove a request for alimony from the divorce complaint then he or she must do so.  Remember, you are the client.  You need to know your legal rights, your options, your alternatives, and the possible consequences.  You should be instructed by your lawyer on those matters.  However, as the client YOU and not your lawyer should make the decision regarding the language.

Are there other reasons why a lawyer might recommend that you include a request for alimony in your divorce complaint.

Absolutely!  However, that is for another article.

 

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

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall "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 advice session to make sure you know your rights.

 

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.


I am filing for divorce and think I should get alimony. How do I determine how much I should get?

QUESTION:

I live in Narragansett, RI and I'm going to be filing for divorce soon.  My husband makes twice as much as I do.  How do I figure out how much alimony I am entitled to under Rhode Island law?

Overwhelmed Wife

 

ANSWER:

Dear Overwhelmed Wife:  

Rhode Island law doesn't provide any specific calculation for determining alimony.  Alimony is either agreed upon by the parties or it is determined by the judge after a full trial.  Also, there isn't an informal formula that Rhode Island lawyers or judges uniformly use to determine the amount of alimony a party should be entitled to get or for what period of time.  Alimony is addressed on a case by case basis and attorneys make various arguments for how much or how little a party is or should be entitled to.

Keep in mind that Rhode Island alimony is intended to be rehabilitative and not to balance the two parties' incomes or keep you in the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.

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 RI Lawyer focusing my practice exclusively in the area of Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law.  


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

I am here to help when you need me.


RI Alimony - A Refresher by Rhode Island Divorce Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall

Alimony is an important concept to understand under Rhode Island law.

The Rhode Island media, in fact the media in general with television shows like, LA Law, Law and Order and articles about fat divorce settlements that include large alimony payments in the National Enquirer and even movies such as the comedy Liar, Liar leave Rhode Islanders with the notion that alimony is typical, commonplace and, in fact, an entitlement.  Unfortunately as the media creates its entertainment or information to sell more newspapers and raise its profitability can, and does, foster the idea in the minds of our citizenry that alimony really is an entitlement by a spouse and should be demanded by an aggrieved spouse who expects to suffer a decrease in his or her finances after a divorce if alimony is not granted by the court.

To gain a better understanding of Rhode Island alimony, you may wish to review the Rhode Island Domestic Relations section of the General Laws regarding Divorce & Separation, the more specific section relating to alimony appears below but since the laws are updating constantly it is always advisable to check your local library and any update services as well as the cases that interpret the Alimony statute before taking any action on your own.  The section below has been quoted, in pertinent part, from the Rhode Island Government Website as of this date.

[Exerpt]

To read the complete article on Rhode Island Alimony go to:

http://www.attorneypearsall.com/2008/05/ri-alimony.html

Also feel free to review my other articles on Rhode Island Alimony at:

http://www.rhodeislanddivorcetips.com/rhode_island_alimony_lawyer.html

http://www.christopherpearsall.com/alimony.rhode.island.family.courts.system.html

http://www.pearsall-law-associates.com/RhodeIslandDivorce-Alimony.html

 

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.


Rhode Island Divorce Tip for Women: Get a Rehabilitation Plan!

Alimony is an award that is made by the court ordering one spouse to pay the other spouse monies for that spouse's own maintenance and benefit.  Typically it is awarded to one spouse who hasn't been out in the workforce for several years and has no skills transferable to the working marketplace.

Specifically Alimony is set forth in R.I. General Laws 15-5-16 which extensively identifies the criteria the court may consider and the criteria the court must consider when making alimony awards.  It is set out here ,in pertinent part, as to alimony for the convenience of all readers.

§ 15-5-16  Alimony and counsel fees – Custody of children. – (a) In granting any petition for divorce, divorce from bed and board, or relief without the commencement of divorce proceedings, the family court may order either of the parties to pay alimony or counsel fees, or both, to the other.

   (b) In determining the amount of alimony or counsel fees, if any, to be paid, the court, after hearing the witnesses, if any, of each party, shall consider:

   (i) The length of the marriage;

   (ii) The conduct of the parties during the marriage;

   (iii) The health, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, and employability of the parties; and

   (iv) The state and the liabilities and needs of each of the parties.

   (2) In addition, the court shall consider:

   (i) The extent to which either party is unable to support herself or himself adequately because that party is the primary physical custodian of a child whose age, condition, or circumstances make it appropriate that the parent not seek employment outside the home, or seek only part-time or flexible-hour employment outside the home;

   (ii) The extent to which either party is unable to support herself or himself adequately with consideration given to:

   (A) The extent to which a party was absent from employment while fulfilling homemaking responsibilities, and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience of that party have become outmoded and his or her earning capacity diminished;

   (B) The time and expense required for the supported spouse to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop marketable skills and find appropriate employment;

   (C) The probability, given a party's age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming self-supporting;

   (D) The standard of living during the marriage;

   (E) The opportunity of either party for future acquisition of capital assets and income;

   (F) The ability to pay of the supporting spouse, taking into account the supporting spouse's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, debts, and standard of living;

   (G) Any other factor which the court expressly finds to be just and proper.

   (c) For the purposes of this section, "alimony" is construed as payments for the support or maintenance of either the husband or the wife.

   (2) Alimony is designed to provide support for a spouse for a reasonable length of time to enable the recipient to become financially independent and self-sufficient. However, the court may award alimony for an indefinite period of time when it is appropriate in the discretion of the court based upon the factors set forth in subdivision (b)(2)(ii)(B). After a decree for alimony has been entered, the court may from time to time upon the petition of either party review and alter its decree relative to the amount and payment of the alimony, and may make any decree relative to it which it might have made in the original suit. The decree may be made retroactive in the court's discretion to the date that the court finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred; provided, the court shall set forth in its decision the specific findings of fact which show a substantial change in circumstances and upon which findings of facts the court has decided to make the decree retroactive. Nothing provided in this section shall affect the power of the court as subsequently provided by law to alter, amend, or annul any order of alimony previously entered. Upon the remarriage of the spouse who is receiving alimony, the obligation to pay alimony shall automatically terminate at once.

    On various occasions I've noted that attorneys equate an "education" with the ability to get a job in the marketplace or to continue maintenance of their life after divorce without assistance, simply because a spouse may have an associate's degree or a college degree.  This analogy doesn't quite work however.  It could well be that, as in most cases, the wife would forego opportunities for jobs and education either to raise a child or because it was necessary to be a homemaker or even because that is what the husband wanted.

     If you are a wife considering divorce or are already in the process of divorce and your income either is non-existent or is dwarfed by your husband's and you do not already have a professional job with obvious prospects for advancement, it is a good idea to put together a rehabilitation plan designed to improve your skills and get you into a marketable area of the workforce with a realistically projected time frame in which you can achieve definite goals.  Upon doing so, you will have at least an arguable basis that you are (or should be) entitled to rehabilitative alimony.   

<p>Authored by:</p>

<p><a href="http://www.chrispearsall.com/">Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire</a><br /><a href="http://www.pearsall-law-associates.com">PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES</a><br />571 Pontiac Avenue<br />Cranston, RI&nbsp; 02910<br />Phone:&nbsp; (401) 354-2369</p>

<p>

NOTE:&nbsp; The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.&nbsp; This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.</p>

<p>* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.</p>