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March 2008

Rhode Island Divorce Attorney Christopher Pearsall and "On the Record"!

There are two important standards that laypeople should know, especially if they hire an attorney to protect their interests.

1.  You are not protected so that you can appeal if your attorney does not place your issues "on the record".  In a divorce or family court proceeding issues are "on the record" if they are taken down by the stenographer.  What does this mean?  It means that chambers conferences where the court stenographer is not present and taking down the information discussed in the judge's chambers are not "on the record".  It means that discussions with the judge at the bench in court are not "on the record" unless the judge specifically tells the court stenographer to take down the information.

2.  When you are protected with items that are "on the record", if you have to appeal any particular issue, the Rhode Island Supreme Court has consistently ruled that they will not address an issue that is raised for the first time on appeal.  In other words it wasn't "on the record" . . . and . . . the Rhode Island Supreme Court has also consistently ruled that it will give great deference to the trial judge as the trier of fact (since he or she was the person in the best position to evaluate the demeanor, character and testimony of the witnesses) and the factual findings of the trial judge  will not be disturbed absent some gross inaccuracy.  The trial judge's determinations of law will be upheld unless it is shown on appeal that the trial judge clearly abused his or her discretion when applying the law or the facts to the law.

Every litigant before the Rhode Island Family Court should keep in mind whether they are financially able to appeal issues if the trial judge does not rule their way.  If so, those same litigants should be vigilant that major issues are placed "on the record" and aren't discussed at the bench or behind closed doors in a chamber's conference.  If your attorney doesn't preserve your issues for appeal on the record if you lose, what was the point of beginning the battle to begin with?  Just the chance of winning the very first time?

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)


Attorney Christopher Pearsall - On Practical Rhode Island Divorce Basics

Divorce most certainly can be complicated.  Children add to the complexity.  The more assets you have the more complex your divorce.  The more debts you have, the more complicated your divorce.  The more emotional you are throughout your divorce, .... right again.... the more complicated your divorce.  As you can see, there is a pattern here.

So what can you do from a practical perspective to help things go more smoothly?

1.  Check your emotions at the door.  Divorce is not easy.  It can certainly be emotional.  Yet many people let their emotions control their decision-making which usually leads to decisions counterproductive to the successful completion of their divorce.

2.  Get Realistic.  Divorce is not about vindication, mental cleansing or revenge against your spouse.  Divorce is a process for two spouses to go their separate ways equitably.  If you are not realistic then you will not be prepared when you don't get everything you want in the divorce or when a decision by the court doesn't go your way.   You need to understand and be realistic about:

a)  The Process - It takes time and it isn't perfect.  There are continuances, judge's get sick,  courtrooms get changed, attorneys have conflicts, judges sometimes make decisions in chambers conferences.

b)  Your Attorney - Attorney's aren't perfect and neither are all clients.  Keep in mind that attorneys have multiple clients and they try to keep all their clients happy and informed.  Yet attorneys have families and lives just like you and they try to work that all in to their
lives.  If your attorney isn't calling you or sending you copies of letters, check with your attorney to see if he or she is trying to save you money.  Don't be offended if an attorney gives you legal advice that you don't want to hear and won't take.  The attorney is obligated to do so.  Understand that while an attorney may care about you and your case, it is their livelihood to give legal advice and take care of matters on your case and they get paid for whatever they do on your behalf.

C.  The Court - The Family Court is present to facilitate the divorce process.  You should realize that it is not a place to do anything other than get your divorce completed and close the court's file.  Hearings may take place.  Rulings may be made by Judges that do not go your way.  Objections may be made on your behalf that are not sustained when perhaps they should be.  The court is not perfect.  This is precisely why their is an appeal process in place if your attorney believes that the judge made reversible error.

3.  Expect to Compromise.   Parties rarely agree on everything in a divorce.  Therefore it is inevitable that one or both of the parties will have to compromise if they want to get this divorce completed in a reasonable period of time rather than going to trial.  Most divorces do not go to trial even when parties want them too.  The court knows that trails tie up a judge and a court room for a substantial amount of time and therefore they use mediation, conferences and recommended judicial compromises to avoid the avenue of a trial.  Though it may not be the way the system should operate, it is the way the divorce system does operate.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
PEARSALL LAW ASSOCIATES
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)