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Grandparents and children
The opioid epidemic is a problem all over the country. Here in Rhode Island, some grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren after the parents have become addicted to drugs. However, navigating the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) as a grandparent can be difficult, and some grandparents have gone as far as to call the process “hell.” While dealing with these issues is stressful even under the best of circumstances, an experienced Rhode Island grandparents’ rights attorney can help you through the process.

Which Rights Do Grandparents Have?

Generally, parents are in charge of all of the decision making regarding their children, including whether their grandparents are allowed to see them. However, there are some circumstances in which the court may grant visitation to grandparents even over the objection of the parents.

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GPS Device
Divorces are famous for bringing out the worst in people. Now, with rapid growth and innovation in technology, ex-spouses sometimes use these new products in ways that can hurt them in family court. In an attempt to gather evidence, people going through a divorce or considering one are using apps and programs to track each other and get recordings and other evidence to potentially use in court. However, many of these tactics are illegal, and even the ones that are not may hurt your case in family court.  An experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney can help you with your case and make sure that you have safeguards in place so that your former spouse cannot gather any information without your knowledge. They can also help you stay within the law and refrain from doing anything that will damage your position.

What is Legal?

Divorce lawyers in Rhode Island have noticed that many of their clients are putting tracking devices in each other’s cars or using apps like the “find my iphone” app to keep tabs on each other. The ubiquity and relative inexpensiveness of these devices has made it much more common for divorcing partners to find out information about each other. Parents are also putting devices like cameras or location tracking on their kids when the children are with the other parent. While the separated individuals may think these tactics will give them evidence that will help them in court, that’s often not the case, and it’s easy to run afoul of the law.

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Calculator and paper
If you are thinking about what will happen to your assets after your death, one of the things that you may have to consider is the estate tax. There is both a federal and state estate tax if your assets are above a certain amount. However, there may be ways for you to avoid certain taxes and fees if you consult an experienced Rhode Island estate planning attorney. A skilled attorney can help you preserve as many of your assets as possible for your heirs or any other beneficiaries you designate.

Estate Tax Basics

Estate tax is an often misunderstood area of the law. The vast majority of people are not subject to an estate tax because the sum value of their assets fall under the limit. However, the tax is still important for everyone to be aware of so they can plan appropriately. Just like you pay both federal and state income taxes, you could be subject to both state and federal estate taxes.

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couple on bench
After twenty three years together, an East Providence couple decided to separate. Now that they have broken up, a court is trying to determine if they were in a common-law marriage. We tend to think of marriage in black and white terms: either you’re married or you’re not. But it may not be that simple in Rhode Island.

Common-Law Marriage

In most states this would be pretty straightforward, and the court would look to whether there was a marriage license. However, Rhode Island is one of only a few states that recognizes common law marriage. In order to determine whether a common law marriage exists, many people think there is a specific number of years together that must be met. That’s not true. Rather, the court looks all the relevant factors to determine whether there was a “present mutual intent to be married.” In other words, do both parties consider themselves married to one another? Do they live their lives like they are married and hold themselves out to others as a married couple? A Rhode Island family law attorney will be able to explain all the ins and outs of this unique area of family law.

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In the mid-1980s, an ex-husband challenged the trial court’s finding that he was at fault for the dissolution of his marriage and the court’s award to the ex-wife of his interest in the marital home, rehabilitative alimony, and her attorney fees. This Rhode Island Supreme Court case is an important holding regarding rehabilitative alimony, and in Rhode Island family law.

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The trial court awarded the wife an absolute divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and the husband’s extreme cruelty. The court further awarded the wife custody of their minor child, assigned to the wife the husband’s interest in the marital residence, ordered the husband to pay child support, and required the husband to pay alimony and his wife’s counsel fees. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in part but remanded the case for further consideration with respect to the award of alimony. It further vacated the award of counsel fees.

The husband and the wife were married in the summer of 1959 and then had three children together. One of the three children was a minor at the time of the divorce proceedings. According to the testimony, the marriage started to fall apart in 1980. The wife filed for divorce and the parties separated pursuant to an ex parte restraining order issued against the husband.

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In 1989, the Rhode Island Supreme Court decided an important case in Rhode Island family law, particularly within the realm of admissible evidence. Petitioners appealed a family court decree granting a petition to terminate parental rights filed by the Department of Children and Their Families (DCF). The petitioners had three children, but their parental rights were terminated exclusively in regard to their eldest child. The state high court affirmed the trial court’s decision.

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In July 1985, the mother placed her three-year-old daughter in the DFC’s care, stating that she was unable to care for her due to the daughter’s aggressive behavior. In foster care, the daughter alleged that she had been sexually abused by her parents, whom she called the “bad people.”

In August 1985, the mother told DCF that she did not want visitation with her eldest daughter. Based on the eldest child’s allegations of sexual abuse, the Family Court issued an ex parte order of detention, placing the daughter and her two younger sisters in temporary DFC custody. That November, a DCF caseworker established a plan for the parents to have visitation with their eldest daughter. The parents refused to sign the plan at the request of their lawyer.

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In a recent Rhode Island estate law case, six trust beneficiaries (collectively, ‘respondents’) moved to dismiss the petitioner’s petition for declaratory relief or, in the alternative, to either amend the trust or allow the other beneficiaries to disclaim their interest in the petitioner’s share of the trust. Petitioner sought to permit his adopted son—whom he adopted as an adult—to succeed to his interest in his grandfather’s trust. The court had jurisdiction pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 9-30-1.

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The trust was established in 1928 by the settlor. Rhode Island Hospital Trust served as the initial trustee, and thereafter replaced by its successor entity, Bank of America. Following the settlor’s death, the trust directed the trustee to equally divide the remaining net income from the trust to the benefit of his wife, three daughters, and their issue. The trust further provided for its termination 21 years following the death of the settlor’s wife and daughters and two other named individuals (collectively, ‘the R. family’). At the time the case came before the Rhode Island Superior Court, members of the R. family were the only surviving named individuals, both in their nineties.

Petitioner’s mother, one of settlor’s daughters, became a beneficiary of the trust following the settlor’s death. Petitioner and his three sisters succeeded to their mother’s interest in the trust upon her death. In 2001, at the direction of the superior court, the daughter’s interest in the trust was divided into four separate shares—one for each of her children. The 2001 judgment further provided that “[i]f, at any point, a child of [the daughter] is deceased and no issue of that child survives,” then the deceased child‘s share of the trust will be divided evenly among the surviving siblings.

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In a recent Rhode Island family law case, the defendant appealed from a family court decision following a divorce proceeding. The trial judge found the marital estate to be essentially nonexistent, and further found that a majority of the disputed assets belonged squarely to the plaintiff. Defendant disagreed, arguing that the trial judge erred in failing to identify various assets as marital property subject to equitable distribution at divorce.

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The case came before the Rhode Island Supreme Court, following an order requiring the parties to  show cause why the issues should not be decided summarily. The state high court concluded that cause was not shown and that the case could be decided without further argument. The court affirmed in part and vacated in part and remanded for further proceedings.the

Plaintiff and defendant met in the summer of 2012. A few months later, they decided to get married. Before the wedding, however, the defendant told the plaintiff that they could not be legally married because his divorce from his third wife was not yet finalized California. This fact upset the plaintiff, a Chinese citizen.

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In 1995, the Rhode Island Supreme Court recognized for the first time the tort of negligent misrepresentation in the context of Rhode Island adoption law. Two parents alleged that their adoption agency misrepresented and omitted material information concerning the adopted child’s medical and family history. In an important decision, the state supreme court ruled that once it undertook to divulge the child’s health information, the agency assumed a duty to disclose all information regarding the child’s health, despite the lack of a statutory mandate to do so.

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In 1981, the plaintiffs sought to adopt a child through Children’s Friend and Service (CFS). In 1982, the plaintiffs were informed by CFS that a child was available whom they might be interested in adopting. According to the plaintiffs, CFS negligently misrepresented and omitted material information regarding the child’s medical and family history. The child, who was 13 when the case came before the Rhode Island Supreme Court, was intellectually disabled and severely disturbed.

Plaintiffs asserted that they began to learn the true nature of their child’s biological family in 1991. The child’s biological mother had been diagnosed as possessing macrocephaly, pseudoepicanthal folds, a high-arched palate, tachycardia, small clinodactyly of the fifth fingers, tremors of the hands, and poor coordination. Plaintiffs alleged that all these conditions were known by CFS prior to the child’s adoption.

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In the early 2000s, a Florida resident (plaintiff) attempted to establish that a Rhode Island resident (defendant) was the natural father of her minor child, CMH. Defendant filed for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s former husband was determined to be the father of CMH based on a Florida divorce judgment. In May 2002, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the family court’s judgment granting summary judgment to defendant.

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This Rhode Island family law case arose from a relationship between the plaintiff and defendant from 1976 and 1996. During an interruption in the affair in 1983, the plaintiff married BH on January 14, 1984. Despite the marriage, the plaintiff’s sexual relationship with the defendant resumed in 1985 and continued into 1996.

In 1985, the plaintiff conceived CMH. In 1989, the marriage between the plaintiff and BH ended and they were divorced. The judgment stated that CMH was “born of the marriage.” BH did not dispute this finding and agreed to pay child support.

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