Contact Us
Published on:

One of the most contested issues in any Rhode Island divorce is the division of property. While the concept of dividing up a couple’s assets may sound straightforward, in practice the process can be quite complicated.

Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. Thus, courts employ a three-step approach when dividing marital assets. First, the court will determine which of the couple’s assets should be considered marital property subject to equitable distribution and which assets are an individual spouse’s separate property. As a general rule, marital property consists of the assets that were acquired during the marriage. However, certain exceptions exist. For example, inheritance and gifts from third parties are not considered marital property, even if they are assigned or received during the marriage.

Once a court determines which assets are marital property, the court will then consider a list of factors to determine how to divide those assets. These factors are set out in Rhode Island General Laws § 15-5-16.1, and include:

Continue reading →

Published on:

What would you do if your spouse took your children out of the country and refused to bring them home? A Canadian man unfortunately faced this situation after his wife took off with a child following their annual vacation to Rhode Island. Cases like this illustrate why it is so important to have a custody agreement in place. If you are concerned about a similar situation happening to you, you should contact an experienced Rhode Island child custody attorney as soon as possible.

The Circumstances of the Case

The couple was married in 2010, and had two children during the marriage. The father is Canadian and the mother is American, but she became a Canadian permanent resident after the marriage. Every year the family would take a trip to Rhode Island together. However, during the 2017 summer trip the mother found emails that suggested that the father was having an affair with someone else. Instead of returning to Canada, the mother flew to Texas with a child and then relocated to Michigan.

Throughout this period, the father and mother were in contact and the father helped to enroll the child in school in Michigan. The parties emailed about an interim agreement regarding the custody of the child and the couple’s unborn child that would have the children staying with their mother in Michigan. However, the father never signed the agreement. He later filed a petition for the return of the children.

Continue reading →

Published on:

They say that “good fences make good neighbors.” In a case recently heard by the Rhode Island Superior Court, the fence was part of the problem. This case illustrates many of the concepts of real estate law, although of course only your experienced Rhode Island real estate attorney can tell you how the law will apply in your specific circumstances.

The Facts of the Case 

The parties are feuding over the use of an 18 foot right of way easement. An easement is the legal entitlement of one party to access the property of another. Generally, an easement is granted when it is impossible for a party to get to a road without traveling on the property of another.

Here, the plaintiff and the defendant both live in the same subdivision that was originally owned by a couple and then sold to a developer. All of the lots abut the road, but due to the conditions of the land, some of the residents had to access a road via an easement. This includes the “Lot 3” residents. They have a half circle driveway that connected to the disputed property. After the Lot 3 residents had lived there for about a year and a half, the “Lot 4” residents put up a fence and other barriers that blocked off access to the disputed area. This required people using Lot 3’s driveway to only have one way in and out and now busses, including the bus that picked up the resident’s disabled child, to turn around on a steep hill.

Continue reading →

Published on:

When a couple divorces and there are children from the marriage, in almost all cases one of the parents will be required to pay child support to the other parent. This obligation remains in place even if one or both of the parties moves to another state. Your experienced Rhode Island child support attorney can help you understand your obligations or the obligations of the other parent.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

Sometimes one party is ordered to pay child support to another party, but then one of the parties moves out of state. In the past, it would be very difficult to hold the payor accountable for any child support they owed in these scenarios. In fact, sometimes the payor would move out of state for the primary purpose of avoiding child support. In order to address this issue, Congress passed a law to help make it easier for child support obligations to be enforced across states.

This law is called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The first version was created in 1992 and it has been revised several times since then. The act helps to determine which state’s laws should govern any given child support situation. State laws regarding child support can differ significantly, so it is important for courts to know which laws to apply.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Family court is not a criminal court. Therefore, generally, the family court does not hear cases that involve criminal defendants, nor does it impose criminal penalties on defendants. However, Rhode Island allows some criminal cases with juvenile defendants to be transferred to family court. The state believes that in some situations the family court is better equipped to handle cases involving young people.

Moving a case from criminal court to family court has both pros and cons for defendants. In most cases, the defendant will be given a lesser penalty in family court than they would in a criminal court. This is because the family court is more focused on rehabilitation and will usually order interventions like counseling, and other forms of treatment . Conversely, criminal defendants often have more rights during the process, including a right to counsel, and stricter rules of evidence that the state must follow. Your skilled Rhode Island family law attorney can help you understand how these differences will apply in your situation.

In the case at issue, a juvenile defendant was adjudicated by the family court for delinquency after being found responsible for two counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault. The victims were under the age of 14. As part of the adjudication, the defendant was required to register as a sex offender.

Published on:

Generally, a relationship ending doesn’t result in a court appearance unless you were married. This case is an exception. In a very interesting case heard by the Rhode Island Superior Court, an ex-boyfriend sued his ex-girlfriend for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. If you believe that you may have a case against your ex-partner or ex-spouse, a knowledgeable Rhode Island family law attorney can help you to decide whether you have a claim.

The Ex-Boyfriend’s Allegations

As noted above, the plaintiff/ex-boyfriend in this case brought suit against his ex-girlfriend for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment. After seven years in a romantic relationship together, the defendant/ex-girlfriend and the plaintiff broke up. He alleges that she falsely represented to him that his life would be enhanced by being with her, and in reliance on this promise he devoted his time, energy, and expertise to her. He also alleges that he provided financial advice to her that will eventually save her tax money. Thus, he argues, it is unfair for her to keep that benefit while not giving him the benefit of lifetime security (presumably by remaining in a relationship with him).

Published on:

Unless you are a lawyer, you probably don’t think about the specific procedures for filing a lawsuit. While you should always work with a knowledgeable Rhode Island insurance attorney if you are considering suing an insurance company, it can also be helpful to understand some of the procedural rules surrounding the case. A recent case heard by the Federal District Court of Rhode Island discusses these procedural requirements.

Jurisdiction

In order for a court to hear a case, they must have jurisdiction over the matter and the parties. Typically, claims related to insurance or personal injury are heard in state court. However, the case may be removed to federal court if certain conditions are met. One of the ways that a case may be eligible to be heard in federal court is through diversity jurisdiction.

Published on:

Most of the time that child custody is discussed, it is in the context of divorcing parents. Of course it is increasingly common for the parents of children to not be married. So what are the rights of Rhode Island parents when they are not and have never been married to the other parent? You should talk to an experienced Rhode Island family law attorney to understand how the laws are applied in your situation, but there are some basics that unmarried parents should know.

Father’s Rights

When a married woman gives birth, her spouse is legally presumed to be the parent of the child. When the mother is not married, paternity first has to be established in order for the father to be given parental rights. Establishing paternity does not necessarily require a paternity test. The father of the child can acknowledge paternity of the child. He can do this through putting his name on the birth certificate or other means. Once the father has been established, then he will have equal parenting rights as the mother, though this does not necessarily mean equal time with each parent.

Published on:

In a case heard by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the court evaluated a lower court decision involving hidden assets during a divorce. The parties were married for about nine years by the time the divorce was finalized. The divorce trial took 12 days and the decision issued was 59 pages. The family court magistrate issued its decision in March of 2016 with findings that included that there were irreconcilable differences and the breakdown of the marriage was irremediable. Thus, the divorce was granted.

However, a couple of months after the magistrate issued their decision, the wife filed a motion to allow further evidence to alter or amend judgement. In this motion, the plaintiff argued that there was newly discovered evidence that showed her ex-husband had concealed financial information during the divorce proceedings. The magistrate dismissed all of the issues except for one. The remaining issue involved the defendant’s failure to disclose at trial that he had sold a specific piece of property referred to as the Tourtellot property.

The defendant had purchased the Tourtellot property before the marriage using his own separate funds. However, during the marriage the plaintiff had helped to improve the property, which increased the value. Therefore, the magistrate found that the failure of the defendant to disclose during the trial that the property was sold affected the rights of his ex-wife. The magistrate then compensated the plaintiff by awarding her 60% of the difference between the purchase price and the sale price of the property. He also ordered her ex-husband to pay this amount in one lump sum.

Published on:

Generally, parents are able to take their children anywhere they want to. However, there are important exceptions to this rule. One common situation is if you share custody of your child with someone else. Another time where you are not allowed to take your child out of the state is if they are in custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). One Rhode Island couple found this out the hard way after being arrested in Florida when they took their child there, even though she was in DCYF custody.

Child Snatching Charges

Rhode Island DCYF removed the couple’s infant child from their custody a few days before this incident occurred. The child was placed with a relative, and a family court order prohibited the couple from unsupervised contact with the child.

However, in defiance of the court order the couple went to the house and took their child. They told the relative that they would return the child soon but instead they took her to Florida. They were arrested in Florida, and their infant daughter and other child were returned to DCYF custody. The couple faces child-snatching charges.

Continue reading →

Contact Information