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Mixed Reaction on RI Governor Chafee’s Same-Sex Marriage Executive Order

Source/Author:  GoLocalProv

Date:  May 15, 2012

As he signed an executive order recognizing same-sex marriages from out-of-state, Governor Chafee on Monday again called on lawmakers to support full marriage equality in Rhode Island and said he would sign a gay marriage bill into law immediately if it were to pass in both General Assembly chambers.

“Let’s get full equality,” Chafee said. “It’s time to get on with it.”

 Chafee became the first Governor in the countrty to sign an executive order recognizing our-of-state gay marriages. His order was met with loud applause from hundreds of supporters inside the State House and earned praise from national progressive groups throughout the day.

"Our members are thrilled that Gov. Chafee is stepping forward to help loving, committed same-sex couples gain the recognition and rights they deserve from Rhode Island,” said Adam Bink, director of online programs for the Courage Campaign. “His support and the unanimous support of Rhode Island's congressional delegation for the Respect for Marriage Act speeds up the day when over 1,100 federal rights and benefits currently denied to legally married same-sex couples are granted alongside what they are getting today from Rhode Island."

Chafee said the executive order reaffirms former Attorney General Patrick Lynch’s 2007 opinion stating that recognizing the valid marriages of same-sex couples does not violate Rhode Island public policy. The Governor said the state was “way overdue” for recognizing out-of-state gay marriages.

 

See the Complete Article at GoLocalProv

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Rhode Island Divorce Mediation - Why it Might Not Be for You!

Divorce Mediation has been promoted by lawyers in Rhode Island and other professionals. Is it the right route for you to pursue in resolving your divorce?

3 Reasons Why Divorce Mediation May Not be Best for You

1. Divorce Mediations can often be costly.  While it may be helpful for a mediator to help you reach some middle ground.  It is an additional cost over and above getting a divorce lawyer to take you through the divorce process and make sure you are advised of your legal rights.

2.  Many mediations do not result in a complete resolution to your divorce.  Often a successful mediation results only in Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which is a broad brush bullet pointed outline of the major issues you have resolved and any basic terms that may have been discussed.  

3.  When you enter into an agreement in a mediation, you often do not know your legal rights.  A mediator, especially a lawyer, cannot ethically give legal advice to two adverse parties.  Parties in a divorce are always considered adverse to one another.  Therefore, in mediation you are usually making decisions without knowing your rights, what you may be entitled to, and the practicalities of what a judge may or may not do in the family court.

Are there Pros in favor of divorce mediation?  Absolutely!  I'll give you three reasons tomorrow why it may be exactly what you are looking for.

All my Best to All Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Court,

I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."


What Can Happen Without a Fee Agreement with your Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer?

Mark went to Attorney Scrimsawyer who told him Mark he would handle Mark's divorce for a flat fee of $3,000.  Mark expected the divorce to go very easily and thought that was a bit much but Attorney Scrimsawyer was very confident, expressed himself well.  Mark was a nervous wreck and very worried because the documents Mark was served with stated that Mark only had 20 days to answer them and appear before the court and he had been served a week ago but had to work all week.  

Mark told Attorney Scrimsawyer that he wanted to call one or two more attorneys to do some price shopping.  Attorney Scrimsawyer was offended and said Mark wouldn't find a lower price so if he wanted to hire him then Mark had to engage his services with a check for $3,000 before he left.  After Mark left the building Attorney Scrimsawyer said he would only do the divorce for a usual rate of $250 per hour and his usual $3,500.00 retainer fee to bill his time and expenses off.  Mark was nervous so he wrote out a check to Attorney Scrimsawyer for $3,000 and the attorney gave him a questionnaire to start filling out for the file and asked Mark for the papers he had been served with so he could take care of them for him.

To make a long story short, the case was a nightmare.  Mark's wife had a lawyer on her side of the family who kept the case going on and on and on.  They went through discovery, depositions, mediation, and every aspect of the case imaginable.  Finally Attorney Scrimsawyer got fed up and demanded that Mark give him another $3,000 for all the time and work he had spent.  Mark refused.

Attorney Scrimsawyer tried to withdraw from the case but the judge denied the motion.  Attorney Scrimsawyer was angry about the denial but ended up going through the trial doing far from his best job.  In the end, Mark's wife got 75% of all the marital assets and Mark got stuck with all the debt.  There was no reason for the bad result except poor presentation of Mark's case by Attorney Scrimsawyer.

Once the divorce was completed and the Final Judgment was entered, Attorney Scrimsawyer filed a lawsuit against Mark for $43,750 which was the amount that he claimed Mark owed him for representing him in the divorce.

Mark was sick of attorneys because of his divorce.  So Mark didn't hire an attorney for the lawsuit.  Mark thought that it was too simple and he could handle the defense on his own.

Mark filed a document claiming he didn't owe any of the money and that Attorney Scrimsawyer had agreed to do his entire divorce for $3,000.

MARK:  When they went to court Mark testified that Attorney Scrimsawyer verbally agreed to perform his entire divorce for a fee of $3,000.  On cross-examination Attorney Scrimsawyer asked Mark to produce the agreement.  Mark admitted it was verbal.  Mark was asked for a letter confirming that he was even offered $3,000 as the fee.  Mark admitted there wasn't any.  Mark was asked if there was an email showing the $3,000 offer.  Again, mark said that it was all verbal.  Mark was asked if he had a copy of the canceled check.  Mark produced the canceled check and was very proud of himself for bringing it.  Mark was asked what it said in the Memo Line?  Mark had to admit that the Memo line was blank.  Mark was asked who else was present during this "alleged agreement?"  Mark said that it was just himself and Attorney Scrimsawyer.

Attorney Scrimsawyer asked if he remembered mentioning his regular rate to Mark.  Mark answered, "Yes it was $250 per hour and a $3,500 retainer."  Mark then left the witness stand.

Attorney Scrimsawyer did only one thing first.  He pulled out Mark's divorce file a slammed each banker's box on the table to show the heaviness of the contents of each box.  In total there were four (4) full boxes. For his own testimony Attorney Scrimsawyer said only this.

ATTORNEY SCRIMSAWYER:  "Your Honor, this is Mark's file.  I have worked on this case for ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SEVEN HOURS which took 1 year and 7 months. I have been paid a total of $3,000.  Nowhere in this file will you find even the mention of any agreement by either of us that I would do ALL of THIS for only $3,000.  If the court thinks I did then the court has to believe that I am the biggest idiot on the planet.  I just want fair compensation for what I've done and not a penny more.  Mark told you my rate so I am asking you to award me the $43,750 that I am owed an not a penny more.  I just want to be paid for my hard work Judge."

The judge went into chambers for about 20 minutes and came back out.

JUDGE:  I find that there is no credible evidence strong enough to convince me that Attorney Scrimsawyer agreed to handle this entire case for $3,000 and that if I were to simply believe Mark that he would be unjustly enriched at this Attorney's expense.  Therefore, I find in favor of Attorney Scrimsawyer and judgment shall issue in the amount of $43,750 as requested plus statutory interest and costs from the date of the initial $3,000 payment until the judgment amount is paid in full.

Mark was shocked and now he was stuck with paying the attorney $43,750 simply because he did not have a signed agreement with Attorney Scrimsawyer saying exactly what the lawyer would do and exactly how much Mark would pay.

Sadly, Attorney Scrimsawyer simply made a poor bargain and then wouldn't abide by it and when the Attorney came before the court he never lied but cleverly used his lawyer's skill to have enough information revealed that it appeared that he had not entered into the agreement.  Hopefully this is a rare example of what can happen.

Yet I find it important for the client's sake to put together the fee agreement so the client will know exactly what they are getting from me when they pay me for my services.  Client's should be treated fairly and with respect, especially in the area of divorce and family law where emotions run high and it would be far too easy to take advantage of already vulnerable people.

What else can happen?  How about a $43,750 lien on your house?  How about an Order from the court allowing this attorney to remove those monies from your bank accounts or retirement investments?

A word to the wise.  Have a Fee Agreement signed by you and by the lawyer drawn up, and make sure that it really does say what the divorce attorney said he or she was going to do for you.  Without that agreement, you could find yourself like a sheep being led to the slaughter.

All my Best to All Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Court,

I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach."


Rhode Island Family Law Attorney - Something for Angry RI Divorce and Family Law Clients to Consider . . .

As a Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer I have had the privilege of representing many men and women before the Family Courts of our state.   I have taken pride in the oath I took the day I was sworn in as an officer of the court and afforded the privilege of practicing law and representing people in the courts of our state honorably, morally and ethically.


On September 10, 2009, I woke up and discovered a posting in the legal section of  Craig'sList.org.  The posting about me as Rhode Island's Most Affordable Divorce Lawyer looked exactly like this.

Authored By:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law

Rhode Island's Full-Time Divorce* Lawyer is Now
Rhode Island's Only Full-Time Divorce Coach
!!

Call (401) 632-6976 Now
and
Schedule Your Rhode Island Divorce* or Family Law* Coaching Session Now!

Copyright 2009.  Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
 Offering Divorce and Family Law Coaching for a New Millenium!

* Rhode Island licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law.

- - Recommended Websites - -


Rhode Island Divorce Attorney - What is an Uncontested Divorce?

When searching for a divorce attorney I find that many of the calls I receive have the caller telling me something like this,

I have an uncontested divorce.  My wife and I have agreed on everything so there should be very little you have to do.  How much do you charge for that?

Regrettably it isn't that easy.  Usually the caller is trying to simply shop for the lowest price possible using the telephone rather than making an appointment.  All in all it's far from the best way to shop for a divorce lawyer regardless of whether you think you have an agreement or not.

The problem?  Most people misunderstand what an uncontested divorce is. 

Let me clarify for those who may not have a clear understanding of what it is.  When you file for divorce the court gives you a Nominal Date that is about 6 to 8 weeks away from your filing date.  This is your hearing date for an uncontested hearing.

Now, if you call an attorney and tell him or her that you have an uncontested matter and that everything is agreed upon then here is what you are telling the attorney,

1.  You and your spouse have agreed upon absolutely everything in your divorce.

2.  You don't need legal advice from the attorney regarding your agreement with your spouse because your agreement is what makes it uncontested and if you receive legal advice and change your mind about one or more subjects in your agreement, then your case is no longer contested.

3.  You have, in most cases, reduced your agreement to writing, had it formally executed and used the correct legal terminology so that the court will accept the agreement and you have accomplished as spouses what you planned to agree upon.

4.  Your agreement with your spouse contains everything that the law requires or your divorce attorney is willing to fill in the gaps on the record of the court.

5.  You are able to complete all of this in a timely fashion so you can have the hearing by the Nominal Date.

Now, this is what is known as an uncontested divorce because both parties are in agreement and ready to proceed by the Nominal Date.  That does not mean that a matter cannot become "Nominal" at a later date.

For instance, what if it takes you 12 weeks to reach an agreement and you need the help of an attorney to formulate your agreement.  Your divorce can still become nominal (i.e. agreed upon) and proceed before a judge.  However, it was not uncontested in the true sense of the word because there were issues that needed to be resolved, in other words, one of the spouses was not in agreement either with the terms of the settlement or the wording of it.  Thus, it because a nominal hearing by agreement after being contested for one reason or another.

In my experience, at least 8 out of 10 callers will say they have an uncontested divorce and want me to put a price on it.  In truth about 1 out of 20 callers has the makings of a truly uncontested divorce and the attorney still can't be certain of this until he meets with the client.  Even after meeting with the client the attorney has only heard one side of the story, since the client cannot represent two opposing parties in a divorce.  Therefore, the Rhode Island Divorce lawyer can't be certain if the other party considers the matter uncontested until the proceeding commences.

Ultimately reliance on any quote you are given for an uncontested divorce over the telephone is most likely misplaced.  Attorneys usually bill for the amount of time they spend on a case.  Since an attorney cannot predict what is going to happen in your case, how many faxes you may send, how many times you may call, etc. . . then how is the attorney to know how much your divorce will cost.  In an effort to get a quick telephone quote from an attorney you could inadvertently fail to provide details that would affect the amount of time it takes or the expense.

Rule of Thumb?  Understand what an uncontested divorce truly is.  Realize that a good Rhode Island divorce attorney will not generally give you a quote over the telephone.  Set up a consultation with several divorce attorneys to find the one best suited to you.

Authored by:

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

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 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.