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…]

The Rhode Island Divorce Process

by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg –

No one enters a marriage with the idea that it is going to end in divorce. However, for many couples a divorce is the only alternative for an unhappy and difficult situation. If you’re considering filing for divorce in Rhode Island, you should make sure you understand the divorce process.

A divorce commences when one spouse (the plaintiff) files a Complaint for Divorce. The complaint is similar to other Court actions, in that it is the formal initiation of legal proceedings, and it requires a response or answer from the other spouse (the Defendant).

At the outset, the case is either assigned to the contested or uncontested track. Most divorces in RI are filed upon the grounds of Irreconcilable Differences. If you file a divorce upon these grounds it will be most likely be assigned for an initial agreed upon divorce date. This date is generally 60 days from the date of filing and more commonly known as the Nominal Date. [Read more…]

Have you been charged with Contempt of Court in Rhode Island?

by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg –

Notice of the Charge
Has a Motion for Contempt been filed against you for not paying your child support previously ordered by the court? Perhaps, you’re filing for contempt against your spouse for not doing what was required with a Divorce Decree.

No matter the precise scenario, the process can be quite contentious. In both situations, you should work with a competent Rhode Island family law attorney to insure you go through the proper steps to assure the contempt charge gets ironed out in the best possible way.

Your Response
If you are charged with Contempt of Court, you’re going to need to respond to the Court Summons immediately. The Summons is notice to you, delivered often by a Sherriff on behalf of your spouse, alleging you haven’t obeyed the previous court order. You must respond to this notice in a timely manner, generally within 20 days, or you could automatically lose your case.

This timely response is called an Answer. Your attorney must set forth in clear and concise language, relying upon legal theories and precedent, why you didn’t obey the court order. Your spouse and their lawyer will also receive this document, so they have your explanation in writing, within the minimum required time, by rule.

Attending the Court Hearing
If you are in fact guilty of failing to comply with the Court Order you may face an angry judge when attending the court hearing. Never attend a contempt hearing without a lawyer present to protect you or to advocate for you.

The consequences of disobeying a court order can mean you having to pay, sanctions to your spouse, immediately comply with the Order and bring yourself current and pay your spouse’s legal costs.

It is not uncommon for people to be sentenced to the Adult Correctional Facility in RI if they are chronically, habitually or willfully in contempt of the Court Order. No matter the situation of the contempt charge, either prosecuting or defending, you need to find an experienced family law attorney to negotiate the best possible outcome. Contact us directly if you’re involved in family law matter involving contempt charges.