Shop Around

If you are in need of a Family Law attorney, you’re stressed.  Maybe you are getting a divorce; either the divorce you need terribly and RIGHT THIS MINUTE RIGHT NOW TOMORROW, or the divorce is something that is happening to you and that want nothing to do with, thank you very much.  Either way, you face losing the house, half your assets, your health insurance, your family, or all of the above (you stand to lose this whether you desperately want the divorce or not btw).

Or you are hoping to adopt a child that has been living with you for a year and you cannot imagine waking up one day and not having him there at the breakfast table.  Or you’re that child’s mother and you are fighting for your life because DCYF has filed to terminate your parental rights.  Forever.  And you cannot imagine him never coming home.

Or you have suffered domestic violence for much longer than you can remember and have finally had enough.

Or you need child support to make the rent.

Or the other parent wants to move your child to Kentucky.

Etc., Etc.

Point is, if you are in the Family Court, you don’t need an attorney, you need the attorney.  So here is some candid advice.  Meet many of us.  We are legion and we are all very different (and we all have very different rates).  Shop around.  The consult is free (or it should be!).  Meet a lot of us, and get quotes. In writing.  On letterhead.  There are plenty of Family Court attorneys out there who can help anyone, but only a few who can help you and your family.

Disclosure

When you go to a Family Law attorney, be prepared to talk! Typically, a wide range of issues needs to be discussed depending on the subject. For divorces or separations involving children, you may need to discuss: custody, visitation, support, other people in your child’s life, health insurance, life insurance, possible education expenses, religion or other social issues, and any tax issues. For some divorces, you may need to discuss: support, property, jobs, income, real estate, assets, liabilities, pets, taxes, cars, support, history of domestic violence, protection orders, resuming maiden names, etc. These lists are not exhaustive and are just a sampling of some things you can be expected to talk about.

It is important that you talk with your attorney candidly and honestly. It is also important that you provide them with the documentation that they need in a timely manner to make sure the process itself stays timely. Don’t forget that your attorney is working towards a solution that best fits your needs.

Marissa McGill

Staying Married for the Children

So many couples put off divorce until their children are older, truly believing that once their children are adults themselves, the parents will then have the freedom to get a divorce without ruining their children’s perfect, married-parent childhood. However, this is not usually a good idea.

Children are pretty good at sensing emotions of the people that they are close to. Parents may be thinking that they are putting a good show on for their children, but many times, their children can tell that their home is not a happy one. This can be confusing and frustrating for children, especially if the parents act like everything is okay, since the children may feel that things are not okay, but their parents are telling them otherwise.

Children also may miss out on witnessing what a real, loving relationship looks like. They may grow up thinking that their parents are in love, but if what they see from their parents is anger, coldness, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, etc., they may erroneously believe that that is what love is. This puts the children at a disadvantage when they are trying to establish their own relationships.

Many times, divorce can bring relief to all members involved. Children could feel more secure if things are settled and they are kept updated (appropriately for their age level). Plus, they will certainly notice that mom and dad are happier apart, and therefore, likely better parents.

Marissa McGill

What alimony is, and is not

Alimony is becoming an endangered species in the RI Family Court. The temporary payment from one (former) spouse to the other is not an income-equalizer. Understand this from the start and you will be better equipped. Alimony is a rare remedy with a built-in expiration date awarded hesitantly by family court judges who are applying hyper-specific, binding case law. It is of little consequence that your soon-to-be-ex has a (much) greater income than you do – disparity in the parties’ pre-tax income is already weighed in the child support determination.

(As a thought experiment, try prying alimony out of the wallet of a parent who is already paying child support. On the other hand, try winning an alimony award when there are no children involved).

Retain an attorney that will fight and claw to get you every copper penny you deserve per the applicable equitable distribution statute(s); more often than not that is plenty of money to complete school, keep you in the marital home, obtain necessary on-the-job training, or otherwise soften your financial landing after your divorce.