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Rhode Island Divorce - Are the Rhode Island Family Courts against Fathers?

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Atty Chris Pearsall

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

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Are the family courts slanted against fathers?  The answer may not seem as simple as one may first think.  Obviously, a divorce and the disassembly of the family unit has to, by necessity, result in the separation of living arrangements for children and their parents, as well as an increased financial strain on the parties and an acceptance of a lowering of the standard of living which the family unit had come to enjoy while it was still intact.

It may strike many men as ironic that a culture such as ours, where women enjoy the many hard-won rights of equality and recognition as equals of their male counterparts, suddenly reverts back to the archaic position where woman are considered the only naturally qualified caregivers of children and therefore, entitled, merely by their gender, to have placement and primary care-giving rights to their children, trumping the rights of fathers.  Many of these fathers, previous to the break-up of their families, took active roles in parenting and care-giving, in addition to providing income for the sustenance of the family.  The mothers of these children may have also had jobs outside the chores of the home, or they may have stayed at home in a capacity of what is now colloquially known as “Stay-at-Home Moms”.

Those women, who have stayed at home to provide particularized parenting and individual attention to the children of the family, have a compelling argument to, not only have primary placement, but to have the father continue to financially bear the entire burden of the expenses associated with the children and herself as well.   She would argue that her services are indispensable to the continued welfare of the children and her primary function was traditionally to care for the children and not to earn income for the family.  By implication, she would argue, this arrangement should not change merely because of a divorce.

Dissimilarly, so-called working mothers will also argue that they should be deemed the primary caretakers and awarded placement of the children. While their argument, that they should not have to provide a source of income toward the maintenance of the children, will be diminished (especially the older the minor children are and the longer they have worked outside the home), their traditional roles of cooking, cleaning, laundry and being the tender hands of motherhood, will come flooding back to elevate their argument to a pedestal which still elicits a knee-jerk reaction to the hallowed image of mother and child.  A culture that has touted itself as democratic when it comes to the need of children, and the equal importance of having both parents participate in the upbringing of children, backpedals drastically in the context of a divorce and allocates an unfair advantage to women.

So what is a father, contemplating separation from his children, to do?  Change the system?  Not likely.  Cry foul?  Unhelpful.  Understand and work within it, arguing for as much participation in his children’s lives as possible and also, as much financial accountability from the children’s mother as well?  Yes.  And know the law.  Know the possibilities.  And be realistic. 

The problem needs to be broken into components: custody, placement, visitation and child support.  Each of these topics is dealt with separately by the courts and each issue is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.  Each case is factually driven, dependent upon the judge who hears it, and reliant upon the attitude of the parties and the representation of the attorneys who represent them.  Know the law and the arguments on behalf of fathers.

Co-authored with Attorney Norbara Octeau (Feb 2007)

Civility for Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers - Where Do We Draw the Line?

As lawyers I've had my fair share of tussels with attorneys who are both male and female as well as members of the judiciary to the highest level.  As lawyers we are expected to act with a level of civility toward our colleagues that reflects the dignity and respect our profession is meant to engender between each other and to the public.

Yet where do we draw the line when civility is taxed to a level of intolerance.  As a lawyer it's my job to protect my client's rights but as a lawyer I've come to the conclusion that sometimes the bounds of civility must give way to a greater good . . . the desire for truth and the prevention of denigration of the human person be they the client or the lawyer.

In the past year I have reached my limit and come to several conclusions that are worth expressing for the benefit of clients, lawyers and the judiciary.



1.  If it means that the line of civility must be crossed to protect the dignity, rights or privacy of a client, then over the line I'll go.

2.  If another lawyer breaches the line of civility with or without just cause, I will reserve myself to the extent possible and rise above the lack of civility by a member of my own profession.  Yet in cases where a  lawyer, judge or magistrate crosses the line and resorts to public acts of incivility, denigration or humiliation without cause then I will call that person's incivility to his or her attention publicly and "on the record" when called for in order to call the person's lack of civility to their attention.

3.  When a lack of civility evidences a bias against a client or against me as a member of the bar then once again the civility will not be tolerated and will be called publicly to the attention of the lawyer, judge or magistrate who crosses the line.

Ultimately, civility has its place and it has its limits and while the Rhode Island Code of Conduct is intended to guide us as lawyers, it is not a license to belittle others be they lawyers, clients or judges.

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 Providence County Family Law Lawyer and I am here to help you if you need me.

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

Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Christopher Pearsall - Judge Laureen D'Ambra Article Removed!

On or about December 4, 2008, I received a letter from the General Counsel of the Rhode Island Supreme Court the letter reads as follows:

December 2, 2008

Via First Class Mail
Mr. Christopher Pearall
Attorney at Law
70 Dogwood Drive
Suite 304
West Warwick, RI  02893

Dear Attorney Pearsall:

        It has come to the attention of this Office that a potential violation of Rule 8.2(a) of the Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct may have occurred due to your posting of various disparaging, misleading, and false statements regarding a member of the Rhode Island Judiciary on your website:  http://www.attorneypearsall.com/2008/09/judgelaureendam.html as well as on http://www.links4women.com/articles/chris.htm .  Specifically, these entries appear to describe an incident that occurred in 2007 relating to your conduct as counsel before Associate Justice Laureen D'Ambra and they contain unfounded allegations of incompetence and impropriety against Justice D'Ambra as well as another judicial employee.

Rule 8.2(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides that

A lawyer shall not make a statement that a lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or integrity of a judge, adjudicatory officer or public legal officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial or legal office.

        While I fully recognize that members of the public are free to express their disagreement with decisions made by the Court, attorneys also have a competing obligation to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.  Your recourse for any perceived unfair or inappropriate treatment by a judges is through an appeal on the merits, or by filing a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline.

        Accordingly, we would ask that you refrain from posting these statements and/or revise the content in accordance with Rule 8.2(a).  Should the comments remain on your website after December 31, 2008 this office may pursue an appropriate remedy through disciplinary counsel.


Erika Leigh Kruse
General Counsel

        The following is my response to the General Counsel for the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

December 28, 2008

Erika Leigh Kruse, Esquire
General Counsel
Rhode Island Supreme Court
Frank Licht Judicial Complex
Providence, RI  02903

Dear Attorney Kruse:

         Regarding your December 2nd letter, I do not own or control the content at Links4Women.com, therefore I can do nothing about the content that appears there.

        I have had no intention of violating Rule 8.2(a) of the Professional Rules of Ethical Conduct, however I do believe I have the right to express myself within the bounds of the Professional Rules of Ethical Conduct. 

I will re-read the article at AttorneyPearsall.com and any other articles over which I may still have editorial control in light of my 1 ½ year investigation.

        However, it would be very helpful if you (or the unknown complainant) would identify the statements believed to be in violation of Rule 8.2(a).  This will allow me to address any issues quickly and with clarity.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


Christopher A. Pearsall

Notwithstanding my response to General Counsel for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, I have become painfully aware of how things work in Rhode Island.

Therefore, after substantial consideration I have removed this article and any similar articles on my websites in favor of preserving my livelihood. 

My thanks go out to the unwavering support of my friends and family through this continuing ordeal.

Article Authored By:

  Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
70 Dogwood Drive, Suite 304
West Warwick, RI 02893

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Copyright 2009.  Christopher A. Pearsall,
A New Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer for a New Millenium

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