Archives for May 2014

Alternatives to Rhode Island Family Court

by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg

Family law disputes such as divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal support are frequently emotional and stressful. When two parties cannot agree, they may believe taking their case to court is the only option. However, litigation is expensive and can be a very lengthy process. Additionally, the courtroom environment empowers the judge to make decisions, which may not be appropriate for either party, instead of allowing the two parties involved to decide what is best.

There are viable alternatives to litigation and these options often allow the parties involved to determine what works best. When filing for a divorce you should consider these effective alternatives.

1. The use a Mediator- Mediation can be a productive way for each party to discuss, debate and decide for themselves the issues that are important to them, including child custody, financial support and property division. A professional mediator must be neutral. Through a series of meetings, the mediator will draft a document outlining what was agreed upon. That document will then be submitted to the court for approval. It is not a legally binding document until approved by a judge. Since a mediator cannot give legal advice, both parties should absolutely consult an attorney to discuss their individual rights and the consequences of certain decisions within the agreement drafted by the mediator. While many people wait until after a mediation to consult their own attorney, you should meet and engage an attorney PRIOR to mediation so you can be fully advised and educated before your mediation. This is my preferred, and I believe most successful, way to resolve cases amicably. [Read more…]

Excellent Divorce Attorney

I would highly recommend Christopher Heberg to anyone who is in need of a honest, sincere and hard working attorney. He is friendly, honest, responsive, organized, and always follows through with what he says he’s going to do. Thank you Chris for helping me to get through a difficult divorce. You are a suberb lawyer and person.

Nat, a Divorce client


Does my Spouses infidelity matter during my divorce?

The simple answer to this question in Rhode Island is yes. Rhode Island is not a so called community property state. Rhode Island is considered an equitable distribution state. This means a judge divides the marital assets, and marital debts, in accordance with equity, or fairness.

A Judge will absolutely consider a spouses infidelity when determining how to divide assets and debts. However, I must caution you that you will need to prove with particularity the alleged infidelity. Yes, this generally means audio or video proof. However, it could also come by a simple admission by your spouse.

Finally, a Judge will be reluctant to consider infidelity unless the marital estate warrants the consideration of the same. In other words, if you have a combined marital estate of $50,000.00 in assets, a Judge will not want to be bothered with discussing these issues. The main reason for that is the infidelity is rarely worth more than about a 10% shift in the distribution of marital assets. [Read more…]

Do children have a voice in the divorce or child custody process?

by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg

It’s an often-heard comment:  It’s the kids who suffer most when their parents separate and divorce.  Although this is undoubtedly true in many cases, in Rhode Island there is a concerted effort to at least ensure that the “voice” of the child is heard and taken into consideration by the parents in resolving their disputes, and by the family courts that hear cases.

The principle behind this is obvious:  Since children are inevitably and profoundly affected by their parents’ settlement agreements and by the court orders that spring from the process, it is only fair that their views and wishes are at least considered before their lives are involuntarily and irrevocably changed. Children can have a significant impact upon which parent has physical custody, where they will be living, and how often they see the non-custodial parent. [Read more…]