Pets and Divorce. Custody or Property?

Would you think that worrying about what happens to a dog or cat during a divorce is silly? Probably not if you are a pet lover.

When a couple decides to divorce, the concern over who gets the family pets is common. Pet lovers do not buy an animal, they adopt a family member. Unfortunately, while the law focuses on the best interests of human children, it sees pets as personal property. Therefore, courts tend to work under this strict interpretation of property.

Accordingly, asking for custody or visitation rights of a pet is equivalent to asking for those same rights to a television or microwave. Courts will typically start by first deciding if the pet is marital property. If the pet was acquired during a marriage, then it is ordinarily considered marital property. However, if it was owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage, it probably will be considered non-marital property. If the court decides the pet is marital it will then go through the same steps as it would other property, such as assigning a value and awarding it to a party. [Read more…]

Divorce Modification in Rhode Island

Once a divorce is finalized and the Final Judgement is field with the court a litigant can finally relax. However, life is unpredictable and circumstances can, and often do, change over time. In Rhode Island, if an earlier Court order or Judgment no longer suits the parties because there has been a substantial change in circumstance since the order or Judgment was issued, the court may be able “modify” the prior order or judgment.

Cases where a modification might be appropriate include those where income changes for either party dramatically,  the children are significantly older and perhaps even have become emancipated since the time when the last child support order was issued, or where a person ordered to pay alimony has retired and now has a substantially smaller income than at the time he or she was ordered to pay alimony.

Sometimes a party may want to change an Order or Judgment because there is a legitimate need to do so, and it would be unfair not to allow a change. For example, when there is a typographical mistake in the written judgment, or when the opposing party lied about the existence of a significant asset, and the asset was never divided by the court because of this.  [Read more…]

Is Collaborative Law Right For Your Divorce

The emotional repercussions of the breakdown of a marriage make divorce one of the most complicated and difficult of all legal processes. However, complicated court appearances and stressful litigation is not always necessary. For those that are comfortable with settling out of court, collaborative law is an option.

What is Collaborative Law and is it right for you?

Collaborative law is a non-adversarial means to dissolving a marriage without minimal court appearances and intervention. The parties usually take part in several meetings with professionals of varying specialties to come to a mutually agreeable settlement arrangement. Generally, this option is for spouses who are non-adversarial, meaning that the parties are not fighting to “win” an advantage over the other.

If you believe that you and your current spouse are willing to proceed through the negotiation process with respect for one another, and with the understanding that any solution needs to be reached in an amicable manner, then collaborative law could be the answer for you. Each party must also be willing to fully and completely disclose all financial and personal information to determine the most lawful and proper settlement outcome.

In addition to reducing stress by avoiding court involvement, collaborative law is often more cost-effective. When spouses are not in agreement, excessive time and resources will almost inevitably be used.

If you are ready to take an active role in your divorce settlement and feel that Collaborative Law may be right for you, you may contact our office directly for a free case evaluation.

False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

Unfortunately, a spouse often will rely upon false allegations during child custody and divorce to gain advantage in the proceedings. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false.

False accusations can be damaging legally and emotionally to the victim. It is terrible to have someone who you once shared a life with make false claims of either abuse or neglect and is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel the need to reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this may actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you, particularly if a Restraining Order has been issued against you by the Court. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of stalking, harassment, or violence when all you want to do is smooth things over. No matter how tempted you may be, it is best to keep away, and with a clear mind, take more deliberate actions to defend yourself. You should:

1. Gather Evidence – If there is an accusation reported against you, collect evidence that will prove differently. You need names, places, and dates that will prove the charges are false.

2. Seek Legal Counsel – While any general practice attorney can represent you in this kind of situation, it is best to seek an a specialized Divorce and Family Law attorney with experience dealing with these specific issues. A lawyer with the right knowledge and experience can provide you with the best legal counsel and properly protect your interests. [Read more…]

Ways to Discover Hidden Assets During a Divorce

Despite complications to the marriage, most people enter the divorce process believing their soon to be ex-spouse is an honest person. However, this is not always the situation. The fact is, dishonesty is a common reason for seeking a divorce. Regardless, even if you have no reason to suspect your former partner is a liar, there is still good cause to be curious and concerned about their finances heading into a divorce.

Once a divorce begins, many people will do whatever it takes to conceal and hold on to what they believe is “their money”. Moreover, some will even create secret accounts, or perform other questionable financial transactions. Discovering these hidden assets during a divorce, is the only way to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

You should never rely entirely on your spouse’s financial affidavit. The good news is an experienced divorce attorney has many tools at their disposal. These include a forensic accountant or other investigators who can uncover most everything during the discovery process. [Read more…]

What to Do if You Aren’t Getting Visitation with Your Child

If you are the non-placement parent, unable to spend sufficient time with your child on a daily basis, it can be can be quite painful. Regular and consistent visitation  helps, but if the other parent is not cooperative, recalcitrant, or if you have not been granted specific visitation you may be wondering what steps you need to take in order to spend more time with your child. An attorney who is experienced in Rhode Island divorce and family law can help.

If you have not previously been granted visitation with your children you will need to perfect your rights. This will require the filing of a Miscellaneous Custody Petition and you will need to go to court to either create an order that will actually grant you legal rights or modify the child custody order that is currently in place.

If a judge has already ordered visitation with your child, but the placement parent is not cooperating, you will need to petition the courts to ensure that the child custody order is followed. It can be challenging to deal with a parent who is not willing to budge, but it is important to follow the proper legal procedure to enforce your rights and obtain your desired outcome.

If you want to see your kids you should be able to, even as the non-custodial parent. Whether you need help with child custody, placement, visitation or other aspects of your divorce, we can help. Please call our office to schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys.

Divorce and The Best Interests of the Child

When you’re going through the divorce process and negotiating child support and custody issues, you’ll hear the term “best interests of the child.” The court will consider a number of things in determining the best interest of a child, including the new family lifestyle the children will experience after a divorce and where the court feels the children will best be able to adapt to the new changes. It is possible for you and your spouse to ease into your new family dynamic in order to make the transition easier on your child provided you can collaboratively work to achieve that goal.

Amicable Relationship

In order for you and your spouse to best help your child through the divorce process, you should maintain an amicable relationship. While that may not be easy, especially at first, this is beneficial in helping your child’s transition into this new way of life. It’s best to avoid contentious debates about visitation, child support, visitation and other child-rearing issues. [Read more…]

Preparing for the financial side of Divorce Mediation

Divorce is almost always a painful process. Determining how to divide assets and determine their cash value is often a difficult and bitter end to a relationship that did not work out. Emotions run high, even in an amicable divorce. Therefore, being prepared is the best way to ensure both parties receive their equitable and fair share of the marital assets and debts. Listing shared properties of value, dividing properties with written evaluations by a neutral party and listing all goals for the divorce mediation are important to avoid costly mistakes.

List All Items of Value
Every couple has items of value. A family home is a piece of real property. Vehicles, jewelry, family heirlooms and furniture may all have monetary value. Family businesses or savings and retirement accounts are part of the marital assets as well. Credit card or loan debt must be considered as part of the equation also. These items are all part of the property settlement for the divorce. Dividing them equitably between the partners is the goal of mediation. Having a list of all valued property makes division easier and ensures both parties receive their fair share. [Read more…]

Divorce Modifications in the State of Rhode Island

In the state of Rhode Island, overturning an official Decree of Divorce, rendered by a Judge after a testimonial hearing, requires an appeal. This must be done within a short and specified timeframe, after the entry of the Order of Divorce. An agreed upon, or Nominal divorce cannot be appealed.

Unfortunately, the appeal process is costly and drawn-out because the RI Supreme Court will need to thoroughly review the lower Courts decision before it will decide to overturn the same. These appeals are usually unsuccessful except in the case of exceptional and compelling circumstances as the Supreme Court will give the Lower Court Judge a lot of discretion. [Read more…]

How Can I Divide My Assets Without Destroying Them?

The concept of how to divide assets is often a primary focus of divorce. When you’re talking about liquid assets like bank accounts, dividing them is as often fairly straightforward. Generally, we can assign each person an amount and then transfer the money accordingly.

Unfortunately the division of a house or a pension, or other long-term investments like those, can mean “destroying” them. In divorce cases, the sale of a house can be disruptive, stressful, and further reinforce children’s fears about how dramatically their lives are changing. Cashing in certain investments, like stock options, 401(k)’s or IRA’s can result in tax penalties that further add to the costs of a divorce. [Read more…]