Child Support Feed

Protection from Domestic Abuse - The Rhode Island Process is Fraught with Peril for Men.

Who Needs the Protection?

By:  Christopher A. Pearsall, RI Divorce and Family Law Attorney*

There are laws in virtually every state that protect the abused.  In Rhode Island we have protection from abuse laws and it is important and appropriate that we have them. 

However, they are not only laws but mindsets that are badly in need of revision and reconsideration.

These laws are codified in Chapter 15-15 of the  Rhode Island General Laws § 15-15-1* et seq. and entitled "Domestic Abuse Prevention."

Rhode Island also has Chapter 15-15.1. The Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act which relates to the power within our state to seek the enforcement of Protection from Abuse Orders and Judgments made by foreign tribunals.  For the sake of brevity, these are orders that are generally those issued by courts and tribunals other than the State of Rhode Island. 

For this article though, let's concentrate are Rhode Island's own Domestic Abuse Prevention laws.

Rhode Island's Domestic Abuse Prevention laws cover abuse between a variety of persons.  Specifically, to be within the jurisdiction of the family to court to hear the matter any acts considered "Domestic Abuse" must occur between 1) present or former family members, 2) parents, 3) stepparents, 4) persons who are or have been in either a substantive dating or engagement relationship within the past one year in which at least one of the persons is a minor.  RI Gen. Laws Rhode Island General Laws § 15-15-1(2)

According to the reading of the statute abuse can occur between any combination of these particular classes of people.  That covers quite a bit of ground as it relates to "family" that might be involved.

The statue goes on to describe what constitutes "domestic abuse."

Domestic Abuse is any one or more of the following actions perpetrated by a person in one of the four classes of people identified above:

(1)     Attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
(2)     Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm; or
(3)     Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat of force, or duress.
(4)     Stalking or cyberstalking

While the individual definitions of these actions causes serious problems in themselves, perhaps the most problematic part of the Domestic Abuse Protection statutes is the the process itself.

In essence, a Person files a Protection from Abuse Complaint to obtain an immediate Ex Parte Temporary Protection from Abuse Order a person only needs to swear to an affidavit that 1) identifies herself or himself as a member of one of the four classes of people identified above, and 2) allege anything that falls within the four categories of domestic abuse with enough convincing language (notice I did not say facts) that gives the judge a reasonable belief that domestic abuse is likely occur to the person if the Temporary Protection from Abuse Order is not issued.

An Ex Parte Protection from Abuse Order is essentially a restraining order that usually often gives the applicant 1) immediate exclusive use and possession of the home and all the things in it, 2) no contact from the party alleged to have abused them at home, work or elsewhere , 3) sole legal and physical custody of any minor children the parties may have together, and 4) relinquishing any firearms to local authorities.  The Order may include other things depending upon what is requested and whether the judge granting such an Ex Parte Order deems it appropriate in his or her discretion.

It is, unfortunately, all too easy to obtain one of these Ex Parte Orders against a man.  Notwithstanding assertions to the contrary, men are perceived as the stronger sex.  Somehow, because we are considered the stronger sex has somehow equated into the fact that by being the stronger sex we are more prone to use that strength to abuse. There is, however, no legal, factual or scientific basis for making this leap in logic.  However, realistically that is what happens. 

In speaking with several police officers this year, I discovered that when they are called to a "domestic disturbance" they are taught to enter the situation with the presumption that the man is the aggressor.  This approach is no different in the court system.  If a woman presents a Complaint for a Protection from Abuse against a man with the accompanying affidavit signed under oath, the Family Court Judge is likely to grant it if it appears the items in the statute have been alleged and the judge forms a reasonable belief that domestic abuse is likely to continue to occur or that occur again if the Ex Parte Order is granted.

The Ex Parte Order can last for up to 21 days before the court hears the matter based solely on the allegations made by the complainant.  For purposes of this article only, let us assume that the complainant is a woman since very few men, in fact, make such complaints for fear that they won't be taken seriously or that they will be viewed as less than men if they do so.

The Case of Donald's Turmoil 

Donald and Teresa were married.  Teresa moved into an apartment that was solely in Donald's name right after they got married.  They had a son about 10 months later.  Donald came home from work one day and was served with an Ex Parte Protection from Abuse Order from the Rhode Island Family Court. The police informed Donald that he had been ordered out of the house and he would be given time to get some of his things.   The police escorted Donald through his own house to the couple's bedroom where he was given 15 minutes to stuff a few essentials into a garbage bag.  Donald was lead outside and the officers told Teresa they would stay outside and wait until Donald had driven away.

Donald was in shock and stopped in a parking lot to read the paperwork.  The order was specific.  Donald was ordered to stay out of the home.  He was ordered to have no contact with Teresa.  Teresa was temporarily awarded sole legal and physical custody of their son.  In three weeks there would be a hearing to find out if the order should be continued for up to 3 years.

Then Donald read Teresa's sworn statement.  Teresa had alleged that Donald had placed her in fear for her life by getting into a rage and throwing a coffee cup at her head causing it to strike the wall and shatter into pieces all while she was holding their son.  Teresa claimed that this put her in fear for her life and the life of their child. 

Donald was incredulous. Teresa had lied.  Not a single allegation was true.  Donald did not understand why Teresa was doing this. Donald had some clothes and toiletries and that was it.

He couldn't contact Teresa.  He couldn't go home.  He had no relatives or friends that he could stay with or call on for help.  He had no way to make arrangements to see their two (2) year old son without breaking the Ex Parte Order.

So Donald did the only thing he could do.  He slept in his car and clean up as best he could in the bathroom at work.  Donald got paid and used the little money he had to get a lawyer thinking it was going to be just one hearing.  On the day of the court proceedings, Teresa showed up saying she needed time to get a lawyer.  Donald's attorney objected.  The judge would not hear the case and continued the hearing another month to Teresa to get an attorney.

Fast forward a month.  Donald had still been living in his car and cleaning up at work.  Teresa got a lawyer just before the court date at no fee to her.  However, now Teresa's attorney needed time to meet with her and to get up to speed on the case so the attorney asked for another continuance.  Donald's attorney vehemently objected stating that he was being denied his due process rights as well as access to his son and his home.  The judge granted 1 hour per week of supervised visitation for Donald at the courthouse as if he were some criminal.  The judge also ordered Donald to continue paying the rent for the apartment until the court could hear the matter regarding child support.  All of this was over the objections of Donald's attorney.  The judge gave Teresa's lawyer a 5 week continuance.

During the ensuing 5 weeks Donald continued to live in his car as before.  Out of the 5 weeks of visits that Donald was supposed to receive, he received 2 when Teresa claimed that she could find no transportation to get the baby to the courthouse the other (3) times.

Fast forward 3 months.... Donald had been ordered to pay child support without the underlying protection from abuse matter being heard.  Again Donald's attorney had objected.  Donald had seen his son a total of 10 hours in 6 months.  Donald had lived in his car for 6 months because Teresa insisted on pressing the Protection from Abuse Complaint.  Each and every time there was an excuse by Teresa or her attorney why the matter could not be heard.  Either Teresa was sick, there was a death in the family, she didn't have a ride to court or the Attorney was on vacation.  Still the court denied Donald his opportunity to testify or to try to prove that no Domestic Abuse was committed.  Each time either Donald or his attorney tried to speak about the substance of the case the court refused to let them speak.  Donald was served with divorce papers immediately after one of his supervised visits with his son.

Fast forward again to 6 months, Donald and his lawyer went into court.  5 continuances had already been granted to Teresa and her lawyer.  This time, Teresa's lawyer stated that income documents had been subpoenaed from Donald's employer but that his employer had not come in with the documents so a continuance was needed since child support depended upon them.  Donald's lawyer objected angrily.  The judge was frustrated.  However, the judge and was going to grant yet another continuance. 

This time Donald's lawyer wasn't going to be silenced.  Donald's attorney told the court how they had intended from the very start to prove that this court had been duped.  We are prepared to give evidence of how Teresa lied on her affidavit, that she was having an affair, that she had moved her boyfriend into the house within hours after Donald had been forced out of the house by the Ex Parte Order. 

The judge told Donald's attorney to stop or he would be found in contempt.  The attorney didn't stop.  He continued to describe how the court had helped Teresa because preventing the truth from coming out sooner allowed the boyfriend live in the apartment at Donald's expense. The attorney quickly described how this boyfriend had been "playing daddy" for the last 6 months while the court kept buying the excuses given by Teresa and her attorney.  Donald's attorney expressed his outrage at how the court was denying his client his home AND his right to be the child's father AND particularly his client's right to be heard on this matter without reasonable due process.

Teresa's lawyer immediately asked the judge to speak with Teresa outside the courtroom.  The judge called for a 15 minute court recess.

Donald and his attorney took a seat.

Twenty minutes later the judge came back out and Teresa and her lawyer came back in.

Teresa voluntarily dropped her Complaint for the Protection from Abuse.  Teresa asked that Donald not return to the apartment until tomorrow.  Donald agreed.

The next day Donald returned to the apartment.  Everything was gone.  Beds, big screen television, appliances, all of their son's things.  He was left his clothes, one bureau a livingroom area rug.  There was junk and pizza boxes strewn about the apartment, a few broken windows and several holes made in the walls.  Donald had no idea where his son was.

If you have read this story, excellent.  Now you are enlightened.  This is not dramatized.  In fact, it is minimalized because the entire story would be too long for most people to endure personally let alone to read.

The Protection from Domestic Abuse laws are too easily manipulated.  They work on the presumption that when people swear under oath to the court that they will be honest and tell the truth, in context, so that the court can do the right thing for truly abused men and women.  I'm an optimist at my center, but I realistically know that people lie every day.  Many people lie on their taxes. Some lie when they are angry.  Some lie just to get their way or because they have an ulterior motive.  To many people it doesn't matter whether the lie is made before a clerk, judge or a notary. 

This story is not out of the ordinary.  All you have to do is lie on the affidavit to the court and for at least 3 weeks you can get a person thrown out of their own home, you keep them away from their children, you can keep them from all their possessions.  In the end, even if you prove that the story they have given the court is fabricated, in 28 years in law in the courts of this state as well as Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire I have not once seen a single person punished for committing perjury even though it is a crime.

Perjury in these types of cases is the most aggregious I can imagine.  You are denied your home, your children, your property .... and all it takes is 3 to 5 sentences of lies phrased in just the right way.  This does such a tremendous disservice to the people who are truly abused and who these laws were intended to serve and protect.

Most of all I would like to caution men.  Protection from Domestic Abuse Complaints are the most frequently used tool of women who want to maintain control in a divorce and sometimes in other proceedings.  By filing for this first it allows them to gain both control of the house, belongings and children and to taint the court into believing that the male spouse is an abuser.  If a judge were to be tainted in this way, might a judge believe that a man who could commit domestic abuse would have no problem lying to the court? 

Yet aren't we innocent until proven guilty you might think.  Not under the Protection from Domestic Abuse Laws. 

So is it possible to taint a judge by presenting a man as an abuser in such a way? 

Hey, anyone can be tainted! 

Simple mistake No.1 that you can make when you represent yourself in a Rhode Island Divorce proceeding!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Google+ Author Profile

Publisher on Google+

Are you thinking about representing yourself in your own Rhode Island Divorce because your divorce seems so simple or you just don't want to spend the money to hire a lawyer?  If so, you may want to reconsider.  There are literally thousands of simple mistakes that you can make that can cost you much more than either hiring a lawyer.

Gertrude's Simple Mistake

Gertrude and Joseph were getting divorced.  They separated all the property they purchased during their marriage and Joseph agreed that Gertrude could keep the house.  Gertrude and Joseph were both on the deed.  Joseph moved to Arizona and told Gertrude she could have the house and he wasn't coming back for the divorce hearing.  Gertrude went to the divorce hearing and told the judge they had divided everything and that they were each keeping what they had.  So that is what the judge ordered.  Gertrude was happy until she tried to sell the house for a good profit.  Gertrude discovered that she had made a mistake at court and in the way she drafted the documents for the judge to sign.  Gertrude broke down and cried when she went to a lawyer and learned that Joseph was still an owner of the house and that she either had to buy out Joseph's interest in the house or get a deed from Joseph transferring his interest in the property to her. 

When Gertrude met with the lawyer she discovered that all it would have taken was getting Joseph to sign a deed before he left for Arizona or ask the judge to award her the property at the time of the divorce using the specific words the law requires and then give an explanation to the judge that was acceptable to him or her as to why she was asking to be awarded the house.

At that point it was too late for Gertrude to fix.  What would have been a simple thing to do at or before the time of the divorce hearing was now a much bigger issue to fix.  Unfortunately, it cost Gertrude thousands of dollars in attorney's fees to fix her mistake when either representation or a coaching session would have avoided the mistake for much less.

It's too easy to make a simple mistake.  Even lawyers can mistakes and we are subjected to years of training. So imagine how easy it is to make a mistake when you aren't trained in the law and you don't practice it every day.

If there is anything significant at all in your divorce that you want to keep or that you must get right such as a car, house, trust fund, retirement, child placement, visitation, child support, medical coverage, etc... then it is too easy to botch things up.  How do I know?  Because before I was a lawyer or knew anything about divorce and family law I sat right where many people like Gertude (and perhaps you...) might be sitting right now and I botched things up.  Later I was kicking myself and I paid a price greater than a few thousand dollars.  I lost seeing my children.

Make sure you don't victimize yourself by avoiding a good family law lawyer for the sake of a few dollars.  Trust me... it isn't worth it.  Is it a pain to get divorced?  Absolutely.  Can it cost you money you would rather not spend?  Most certainly.  Is it worth it do go through the aggravation of getting a lawyer and spending the money to get things right?  DEFINITELY!

Take the time and money needed to get it done right.  Some things just can't be fixed if you botch them up.



Why you Should Reconsider Delivery of Child Support through your Children!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Google+ Author Profile

Publisher on Google+

It continues to amaze me that after more than a dozen years practicing exclusively divorce and family law that there are parents who still pay their child support through their children.

Over the years I've come to understand that there are any number of reasons why this happens.  Just a few are listed here:

1.  Reliability - In some cases parents believe that it is more reliable to send it with the children when they are returned from their parenting time (formerly called "visitation").  The idea behind this is that the parent paying the child support has made sure the child made it home to the placement parent, therefore so has the payment and it has been paid timely. 

2.  Cost and/or Time Savings - In other instances, parents who pay the other parent directly simply may not want to purchase envelopes or stamps and don't want to take the time to write out the envelope information each time a payment is required.

3.  Demand by the Payee Parent - There are some payee parents who insist that the child support payment be dropped off in the children's things when the child(ren) is/are returned.

4.  Causing Intentional Hurt to the Payee Parent - The payor parent wants to emotionally or mentally hurt the payee parent by providing payment through the child.  This sometimes happens in any number of ways.  The payor parent might know that the payee parent is picky about the readability of the check so the payor might just scribble the check sloppily to annoy the parent receiving the check.  The payor parent might write the check so that it is a penny or two short so that the payee parent is once again annoyed or gets angry about having to fight for a few cents to force the other parent to pay the full amount.  The payor parent can simply leave the signature or the date off the check so that it appears to be an oversight when it could very well be intentional so that the payee parent can't get the money unless they fill in the date or forge the signature.  Either one of these is not lawful and forgery of a signature is a crime in Rhode Island.  Another way is for the payor parent to have a new girlfriend or boyfriend write out the check in their hand-writing so that the recipient of the check is taunted because this person should have nothing to do with the payment of the child support but is done simply to emotionally try to hurt the recipient parent.

5.  Avoidance of the Other Parent - The payor parent may use the child so that he or she can avoid contact or communication with the other parent.  Therefore, there is no personal delivery by him or her.  No wasting his or her time to give the payee parent any satisfaction that it is even worth the time filling out an envelope or paying the cost of a stamp.  So the child becomes the delivery person.

These are just a few of the ways that child support payments are transferred using a child which adds a very personal delivery aspect unfortunately the personal delivery comes from the child.  

A good, caring parent will ALWAYS arrange for another method of delivery for child support that does not involve any child or children in any way.   

If you are using a child to deliver a child support payment, there is a very important primary reason in reconsidering doing so.

When a child support payment is delivered by a child or through a child, the emotions and response of the parent receiving the child support cannot always be predicted and can vary.  However, in many cases the response is not usually a positive one.  Association with the Child - When a parent has a child deliver child support, the response of the parent receiving the child support is frequently a negative one.  Sometimes the response can be intense anger, vindictiveness or other emotions.  This may include many forms of venting such as yelling, screaming, grilling the child about the payment or other information, swearing, crying, throwing, slamming things or even destroying things.  Some parents resort to more extreme forms of violence either against themselves or against the child(ren).

Even if the upset parent doesn't intentionally direct their venting and/or violence against a child for the delivery of a child support payment the child(ren) often absorb the recipient parent's response to the delivery.  Depending upon how the child interprets or absorbs the information from either parent, it is almost always in a negative manner.

Some children blame themselves for their parent's feelings or reactions.  Other children feel rejected or become deeply depressed that even though they have done what they were asked they cannot seem to make one or both of their parent's happy.  Still other children become confused and feel as though their whole world is falling apart because they interpret that their parental support system has collapsed.  This often causes children to feel alone with nowhere and no one to turn to for help, support or someone they can trust to talk to.

In extreme cases, children can become extremely depressed and even suicidal if a proper support mechanism isn't realized in their lives so they know they are loved, feel that they have a personal sense of worth, and that they are appreciated by others, and are loved by others.

Our children are our future.  They do not have the defense mechanisms that we learn as we become adults.   If we damage them due to our own ignorance by using them as child support delivery tools then it is likely that we damage their children and their children's children.  Children are as delicate as they are resilient.  However, it is improper to justify yourself by blaming the other parent or simply expect the child(ren) to bounce back.  Resiliency only works when parents are there to support it.  If even one parent acts in a destructive nature, the likelihood is that you have damaged your child's psyche, self-worth, emotional stability and more.

Delivery of child support through a child is shirking your own responsibility onto the child.  Fill out the envelope, pay for the stamp, drop off the payment personally, arrange payment through direct deposit if your bank allows.... but leave your child out of it.  Be the adult you should be... don't risk a child bearing the angst directed at you as an adult.... no child deserves it.  If you love your child, you'll undertake your own responsibility and protect your child(ren) from collateral damage.

Are Extracurricular Expenses for your Child Covered by your Court Ordered RI Child Support?

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Author Profile


Often times payors of child support don't know what is covered and what is not covered by their child support payments.

The truth be told, there is no exact list as to what child support covers.  Yet there is one thing that seems clear.   Expenses for extracurricular activities that involve items that are separate and distinct from basic items that you would think would be covered by child support re not covered by child support payments.

The statute that creates theRI Family Court gives it among other things ... the power to handle issues relating to the support of minor children.  The statute does not explicitly say "child support" and because of this their are cases that have been brought before the Rhode Island Supreme Court such as Chiappone v. Chiappone, 984 A2d 32 (R.I. 2009) that mention orders of both child support and separate orders for extracurricular activities.  Even though the case was not before the Rhode Island Supreme Court on the challenge of an order of extracurricular activities, it is implicit that such orders are within the power of the court because one would expect someone on the Supreme Court panel to comment in the very least if it were outside the power of the family court to issue such orders.

Therefore, child support and extracurriculars are separate and distinct costs and expenses and that is precisely why most family law attorneys deal with each of these issues separately in Marital Settlement Agreements between parties.

However, an issue still remains.  What happens in the absence of lanugage about the extracurriculars?  Many child support recipient parents and guardians believe that it is the duty of the child support paying parent to pay all or at least 50% of these extracurricular expenses.

This is incorrect.  Extracurricular expenses are not an entitlement of any person or child.  A child may receive them if and only if the parties agree to these expenses in their marital or property settlement agreement, or if the court issues an order requiring a parent to pay a portion of those expenses, usually those expenses that are both reasonable and agreed upon by both parents in advance of incurring the extracurricular expense or signing the child up for the activity that involves the extracurricular expense.

A parent who makes payment of extracurricular expenses may do so because they love their child and they have the extra money to do so at the time.  However, no parent should take that as a commitment that they are required to continue to do so in the future absent a formal agreement or a court order as stated above.  Any parent receiving extracurricular expenses from a parent who has no formal agreement and no order from the court requiring that such payments be made should count himself or herself lucky that a parent cares enough for their child to do so.  

There is no "entitlement" to contribute to extracurricular expenses.  They are, as the word denotes "extra."  They are not essential or necessary and many children go without extracurricular expenses that cost a single dime.  Therefore, absent a formal agreement in a divorce or legal separation or a court order, the recipient parent most likely made the choice of enrolling the child in the extracurricular unilaterally.  Therefore It is only right that the enrolling parent should expect to pay for that extracurricular himself or herself without expecting contribution from the other parent.  

Any contribution by either parent that is without a formal written contractual agreement or a court order is merely gratuitous based upon the love of the child.

Neither parent can reasonably expect that upon demand of the other parent under these circumstances that the other parent contribute to the extracurricular activity of the child, especially if he or she does not have the opportunity to participate in or accompany the child in attending the extracurricular function.

Any parent who enrolls a child in an extracurricular activity without clearing both the extracurricular activitiy AND each expense to be incurred that they would ask the other parent to contribute to has unreasonable expectations and has failed to consider the finances and financial plans of the other parent.  

Ultimately any parent who plans in this way should expect that the court is likely to rule that the parent who made the extracurricular plans for the child and expended the funds on behalf of the the child should do so entirely at his or her expense. 

Ohio Judge Hits Home with This Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer!

Picture of Attorney Christopher Pearsall
Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

Google+ Author Profile

Publisher on Google+


Dad doesn’t want his perks to count in calculating child support

[ Begin Excerpt ]

A father of two says his employer-paid perks including a Lexus automobile, cellphone and four season tickets to Ohio State University football games should not be included as part of his income when calculating how much he must pay in child support.

Jeffrey Morrow, president of the Ohio College of Massotherapy in Akron, wants the Ohio Supreme Court to overturn decisions by two lower courts. He argues that only in limited circumstances does state law require inclusion of company-paid benefits.

Some justices seemed dubious during arguments before the court yesterday.

About “$16,000 worth of stuff comes to him. ... Everybody else pays for it; he gets it for free,” Justice William M. O’Neill said.

In 2010, Morrow asked the Medina County Domestic Relations Court for a reduction in his $2,198-a-month child support because his annual earnings had dropped by about half, to $75,000, since he split several years earlier from Sherri P. Becker, the mother of his two children. The two were never married.

According to court records, Morrow had been earning about $143,000 as an administrator at the college and owner of an online subsidiary but claimed that declining enrollment necessitated his salary cut. The court refused Morrow’s request — a decision later affirmed by the 9th District Court of Appeals — finding his gross income did not warrant a change.

[End of Excerpt]  See The Columbus Dispatch


Insights by Author:  Christopher Pearsall

Whoa Now!  I know this is not Rhode Island law we're talking about but even as a matter of common sense I had to address this one.  Can Ohio be that far off the mark?  The second to the last line of the entire article stopped me cold.  It was by one of the justices and stated as follows:

"To have us decide the way you want us to decide it, we would be putting out a case that none of that counts.”

That's right judge!  It would.  Yet you make it sound like what Mr. Morrow's attorney is asking you to do is something inconceivable.  Frankly, without proof of some actual collusion here.... that makes perfect sense to me.

Let's look at this plainly.  His income gets cut from $143,000 to $75,000 and you don't think that warrants a reduction in child support?  We're not talking about a pittance here!  That is almost half of his income!!

So what's the basis for making such a statement?  Do you just think that he's trying to stiff the mother of child support for the children?  That seems to be what the Ohio attorney for the mother is trying to allege by bringing up circumstantial evidence that Morrow isn't just an employee but he's on the board of directors with his Uncle and his mother actually founded the school.  So is there collusion here for this guy to trade income for perks from the school by using family influence?  Is that what the judge what thinking in denying the reduction of child support when the income was cut in half allegedly because enrollment was down?

So what was done here?  Was there any proof of collusion that family ties worked to intentionally cut Morrow's income?  Was there any evidence as to whether the enrollment was down or how the finances of the school were doing?  Or is it all suspicion and conjecture because he received about $16,000 in perks from the school that other people at the school normally had to pay for?  Was Mr. Morrow found to be inconsistent in his testimony so that he was no credible?  Or did the judge just not like the way he was dressed on a particular day?

I'm well aware that in Rhode Island some men do pull this crap by being chummy with their boss or they are part of a family corporation so they try to help the son or brother or uncle out.  I'm not strickly an advocate for men.  Not by any means.  I've represented plenty of women who have placement of the children and I can see the guy is trying to (and this is the correct way to phrase it... at least in my humble opinion) screw the children out of the support they are entitled to.

Yet I have an issue with the way in which this was addressed.  Assuming that the newspaper quoted the judge correctly.... then it most certainly is more than enough evidence and basis to grant a reduction in child support if the man paying it receives half of his original income.  If you don't find it believable that this is the case, then I suppose it is the judge's right to use his or her discretion to make a judgment regarding the credibility of any witness and how much weight the person's testimony is to be given.  However, if there can truly be a reduction shown and there is no actual proof that it is by collusion with family members, then frankly I don't think so much weight can be placed against testimony for this man that it negates a $60,000+ drop in income.  

That's not a basis for a reduction?  Okay.... I wasn't there... but I've seen this before and I'd be willing to bet it's just a gut feeling by this judge and perhaps not based on any "actual proof" that points to an intentional attempt by Mr. Morrow to sidestep his child support obligation.

Should a car and some other pluses that the school pays for be considered in his income for purposes of child support?  The justification seems to be that others are paying for these things but the school is paying for it for this guy so it should be "other income."  That's what is being argued... namely, that it IS "other income" and it should fall within their state's child support statute.

Judge, did you hear testimony as to whether the school takes the car, etc... as school business deductions, or notes them as expenses?  Did you hear whether or not the vehicle is in this man's name or whether it is available for his personal and business use?  Tax treatment by the school should make a huge difference as to whether it truly is "other income."  If it amounts to $16,000 as the article notes, that still falls far shy of the $60,000+ in income he lost.  Yet no relief at all is to be awarded to Mr. Morrow?  Wow... that makes the standard huge for anyone to attain in your eyes.

Here's my greatest problem with things like this.  They are just like the benefits that many of the firemen and police officers have that I have represented.  The women who have placement of the children want to include everything.

Here's the real kicker in my humble opinion.  How can a fireman or police officer use their daily uniforms and gear to pay their child support?  If they get a mandatory pension payment each year that they can't touch, how can they spend that to pay their child support?  What about the educational payments these civil servants receive when special training classes are paid for them?  Can these be used for child support?  None of these things are liquid.  None of these things can be touched when you want them.  95% of  the time unless a pension is vested there is no way our civil servants can even get at these "things of value" to pay additional child support when the court decides to throw these things in.  It's absurd.  The court could actually be subjecting then to receiving benefits instead of actual pay to live on without a choice at all.

Okay... I'm off the bandwagon.  It makes no sense to me.  Items of value that can't be liquidated can't be used to pay the child support and leave less disposable income for the payor to survive on.   

Judges, keep in mind... the payor still needs to live too.


  • Other Interesting Stories about Child Support