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Rhode Island Family Law Blog

Parenting class to be mandatory for divorcing RI parents?

Realizing that you are to be a divorced parent can sometimes feel overwhelming. Many parents wonder how well they and their spouse will parent their child from separate households. 17 U.S. states currently require that divorcing parents take a parenting class during the divorce process. One Rhode Island man is pushing for such a law to take hold in our state.  This is not a new idea.  Years ago, divorcing parties were required to view a video at the court house before they could put through their divorce.  

The current proposition is still in the early stages, but essentially, it would require parents going through a divorce to take a parenting class. These parenting classes may be required by the state, but paid for out-of-pocket by the parents. The classes aim at educating parents about parental alienation and other negative behaviors that divorcing spouses sometimes exhibit that can negatively affect their child. It would also talk about child support and other matters that often court-ordered in support of the best interests of the children.

Study shows children benefit from overnight visits with fathers

Children in Rhode Island often benefit from having a loving and involved father in their lives. This is true even if the parents divorced when the child was young. According to a new study of divorced parents, when the mother had primary physical custody of the child, infants and toddlers benefited from spending some nights with their fathers. Not only did these overnight visits not interfere with the child's relationship with the mother, they actually improved the child's bonds with both parents.  Further, mother's often enjoy having one or more nights off fromthe hard work of parenting.  

The study found that infants and toddlers who had overnight visits with their fathers had a more positive relationship with both parents when they reached the ages of 18 to 20. This was the case both when the parents agreed to the overnight visits out of court, and when a judge ordered the overnight visits. This was also the case whether or not the parents experienced a lot of conflict between each other in the first five years following the dissolution of their marriage.

Staying financially savvy during the divorce process

Rhode Island residents who are seeking a divorce may have heard horror stories of long, drawn-out endeavors costing tens of thousands of dollars. However, not all divorces are the same, and it is possible to end your marriage without breaking the bank.

First of all, to the extent possible you may want to try to settle your divorce out of court rather than go through litigation. There are a variety of ways to reach a divorce settlement: each spouse along with their respective attorneys can enter into negotiations or the parties can settle their divorce through mediation. When settling a divorce out of court, however, it is important to have a thorough understanding of all your assets and liabilities, so the end result of the settlement is fair.

Life changes may warrant a child support modification

When parents in Rhode Island divorce, the noncustodial parent in general will pay child support to the custodial parent. However, this is usually not the end of the story. Life is rarely static; indeed it is ever-changing. For example, a parent could see a significant increase or decrease in their income. In other cases, new children may be born to one ex-spouse or the other after their divorce. In addition, a person's living arrangements may change, even years after their divorce.

When a person's life changes, affecting their finances in a significant way, it could affect their child support arrangements. In some cases the noncustodial parent's finances could take a turn for the worse, making it difficult for them to meet their monthly child support obligations. In other cases, the noncustodial parent's finances could see a positive change in a way that an increase in the amount of child support paid may be more fair to the custodial parent.

Parenting plans set the groundwork for cooperation post-divorce

When parents in Rhode Island decide to end their relationship, whether they were married or not, future cooperation may be the furthest thing from their minds, especially if the break-up was particularly acrimonious. However, they should understand that having children together means that they will still be a part of each other's lives, whether they like it or not. After all, there will be contact with regard to child custody and visitation schedules, but there is so much more. They'll both hopefully be attending their child's soccer games, dance recitals and graduations. Furthermore, even after the children are grown, there will be weddings and perhaps eventually grandchildren. Therefore, setting the groundwork for solid and civil communication and cooperation from the get-go is important.

The start of cooperation comes in the form of a parenting plan. Most of the time parents share joint legal custody. This means that parents will both be able to make major life decisions regarding the child. For example, what religion the child practices, what doctor the child sees and where the child goes to school are all major life decisions.

How does divorce mediation in Rhode Island work?

Sometimes, despite all the anger, sadness and hurt that lead a couple to decide to divorce, they may still want to find a dignified way to end their marriage without having to go give up control of the conversation and process as occurs in  litigation, which can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive. For these couples, divorce mediation may be a wonderful option. Through mediation, couples in Rhode Island can resolve their divorce issues without protracted litigation.  Once they have reached an agreement in mediation, they can use the agreed upon terms to put their divorce through before the RI Family Court.

Through mediation, the couple will meet with a neutral mediator in a number of sessions that in general last between one to two hours each. At the first meeting, the couple, along with the mediator, will decide what divorce issues should be addressed through the mediation process and the order in which they will do so. After that, the mediator begins the process of determining the important facts.  This occurs by allowing each of the parties to speak about what they perceive are the issues and facts.  Parties can express their needs/wants and fears.  The parties will then have "homeowrk" to prepare a budget on a form that the RI Court requires and they will obtain all sorts of financial information (copies of income tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, credit card and loan statements, etc).  These same documents would be needed if the parties litigated. 

Paying child support in Rhode Island via direct deposit

Parents in Rhode Island paying child support have many options to do so. One of these options that may be convenient for some is paying child support via direct deposit. Through direct deposit, the child support funds will be electronically tranasferred from the paying parent's bank account to the receiving parent's bank account.

Direct deposit is beneficial in many ways. For example, it can save time. No one needs to go to the bank, complete deposit slips or memorize bank account numbers. In addition, child support payments may be available to the receiving parent in as little as three days. Moreover, using direct deposit eliminates any chance that a check could be lost in the mail or could be stolen, making it a more secure way to pay child support. And perhaps one of the best features of direct deposit is that it is a free service.

How can getting divorced impact one financially?

Many people in Rhode Island going through a divorce may be so wrapped up in the emotional side of the process, they do not focus on the financial effect that getting a divorce will have on their lives. In fact, getting a divorce can cost a person more than they may realize. However, there are ways a person can mitigate the financial impact of a divorce.

First of all it can help to retain a professional, such as an attorney or financial planner, as soon as possible. This is especially important if a person's standard of living will go down after a divorce. Any professionals hired should not have been those that the couple shared while married, to avoid a conflict of interests.

Obtaining Your Spouse's Emails

Unauthorized access to a spouse's emails might violate the federal Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided on December 14, 2016. Stephanie Francis Ward wrote in the ABA Journal that the 7th Circuit (the second highest court of the land) was faced with a situation concerning a spouse in a divorce. Apparently, the wife had put an "auto forward" on the husband's email account, so she was forwarded emails to the husband from anyone, including his alleged girlfriends.

Why it might make sense to divorce before the New Year

The holidays are a time for family, and for this very reason, couples in Rhode Island who are in an unhappy marriage may wait until January to end their marriage, even if they already know that divorce is inevitable. They think that by staying together, even if their marriage is crumbling, they can have one last Christmas as a family. Some may even think that the spirit of the season will save their broken marriage.

Therefore, many couples wait until after the holidays to divorce. In fact, January sees some of the most divorce filings of any other month of the year. After all, isn't it better to start off the New Year as a new person, with your unhappy marriage behind you? Perhaps not.