Family Law

No area of law is more difficult to face than matters involving your family. Seeking the legal assistance of a knowledgeable and understanding family law attorney should be your first priority. Attorney Lynn Abbott has spent most of her career in family court advocating on behalf of her clients. Clients often express their gratitude and appreciation for her work in achieving favorable outcomes for them not only from a legal standpoint, but on a personal level as well.

You may need assistance in a wide variety of cases, including:

** ATTENTION** Effective January 1st changes to the Rhode Island health care continuation statute has big implications for spouses of state employees who are contemplating divorce or are in the middle of a divorce.

Alimony, based on one party’s financial need and the other party’s ability to assist, may be requested to offset the financial losses or sacrifices made during the marriage. Financial imbalance might come from one party remaining home to raise children, the loss of a job by one party, supporting a spouse while in school, providing financial support to start a business, or any other sacrifice one partner has made for the betterment of the other. However, gainful employment or the ability to secure gainful employment, or the ability to support oneself from other sources, including from one’s share of the equitable distribution, will be grounds to deny an award for alimony. A family court judge may consider the following in granting or denying a request for alimony:
-The ability of each spouse to pay alimony
-The ability of each spouse to become gainfully employed
-The cost and duration of training necessary for each spouse to be capable of obtaining gainful employment
-The nature of the sacrifice made that creates the basis of the alimony request
After divorce, your financial protection is of the utmost importance. Obtaining a qualified family law attorney will ensure your alimony needs are thoroughly addressed.
Child Custody & Visitation
Divorce impacts families financially and emotionally, and takes a particularly hard emotional toll on young children. To avoid exacerbating an already stressful situation for everyone involved, it is best to seek experienced legal counsel. A qualified attorney will be able to help you navigate child custody issues as they arise in your divorce proceedings.In determining child placement and custody, judges are always looking out for the best interest of the child. Family court judges often consider the following factors when determining custody:
-If the parent is able to care for the child financially.
-If the parent is emotionally and intellectually able to meet the child’s needs.
-The health (mental and physical) of both the child and the parent
-The stability of the home
-If there are siblings or other family members living in the home, whether or not they would be a threat or detriment to the child.
-Whether or not the parents are able to have a working relationship with each other
-And if the child is old enough, where he/she would most like to be.
Child Support
The state of Rhode Island provides strict guidelines in determining how much someone will pay in child support, and by whom. While the guidelines are a great place to start, there are nuances of every child support case that only a qualified attorney can help you navigate properly. For instance, it’s a common misconception that the child support amount ordered by the court can never be changed, and that the paying parent must pay until the child is 18 years old. As circumstances change throughout the years, custodial parents can request that the court modify the terms of child support.
Besides income, there are other factors that go into determining child support. Such as:
-The financial resources of each parent
-What the child’s standard of living would be if the marriage remained in tact
-The child’s educational needs
-The child’s particular physical and emotional condition
-If the child has access to financial resources
Divorce is a difficult emotional experience and a complex legal process. Because there are often many elements of divorce—like alimony, division of the marital estate (assets and debts), child custody and visitation, child support, and enforcement and modification of court orders—it’s important to have an experienced attorney to advise you every step of the way. When considering divorce, you must take into consideration the legal ramifications of terminating the marriage. Before proceeding in any way, seek legal counsel.
Juvenile Law
Family juvenile court differs significantly from the traditional criminal justice system. The family court seeks to help the child and family properly respond and deal with the difficulties the child is having in a way that is productive, positive, and if necessary, rehabilitative. The best juvenile law attorneys will help families and their children find the best solutions to their legal issues, taking into account the difficulties the child is facing.
“Paternity” is literally the state of being someone’s father. A common misconception is that the biological father is the legal father. Although that’s often the case, establishing paternity to determine the legal father is slightly more complex. Paternity is presumed if the parents are married to each other when the child is born. If they are not married, paternity must be established in other ways. Establishing paternity may be done voluntarily, or in some cases, involuntarily (mandated by the court). Legal matters involving paternity can include child custody and visitation rights, and child support. Because of the complexities inherent in paternity cases, seeking legal counsel through an attorney who is experienced in family law matters is essential to handling this sensitive and important issue properly.
Prenuptial Agreement
Prenuptial agreements, or premarital agreements, are designed to help couples establish their rights and responsibilities within their marriage and to protect them and their assets in the event of a divorce. Sometimes marital agreements are made after the date of marriage; in that case they’re referred to as postnuptial, or postmarital agreements. Regardless of when the agreement is made, it’s important to have a qualified attorney help you understand the terms incorporated in these types of agreements. Some of the most common issues prenuptial agreements address: alimony, property settlements, division of assets (including stock options, retirement benefits, and pension benefits), insurance benefits, rights to manage property, and miscellaneous private or personal rights.
Restraining Order for Abuse
A restraining order is designed to protect you or your child if either of you are suffering from spousal or child abuse. Domestic abuse is a serious and prevalent issue. While the most common type of domestic abuse is between spouses or divorcing spouses, almost any family member can be charged with domestic abuse, including a grandparent, parent, stepparent, present or formerly present family member, and even a child or stepchild. Depending on the conditions of the abuse, there are three types of domestic violence restraining orders in Rhode Island:
1. Temporary restraining order: Typically issued if you are likely to suffer severe injury if you do not get an immediate protective order. Designed to offer temporary relief until a hearing can be held to address a final order.
2. Emergency restraining order: Issued outside of court. When you need immediate protection outside of regular court hours. In this case, you do not need to face your abuser in court. This is also a temporary measure.
3. Final restraining order: Issued for up to three years with the possibility of extension. Designed for long-term protection based on the evidence and specifics of the domestic abuse case.If you or one of your family members is experiencing domestic abuse, please seek qualified legal counsel immediately. We can help ensure the safety of you and your family.

The experienced attorneys at Martineau Davis & Associates can guide you through all aspects of alimony, divorce, custody, visitation, child support, domestic violence, and divorce. When counseling family law clients, our attorneys prepare the client to deal with what can be a difficult time, and focus primarily on the best way to insulate the children from the process. In cases involving divorce casualties affected by parental alienation or other child abuse, Martineau Davis & Associates advocates swiftly and aggressively for the child or children.

We consider ourselves to be true partners with our clients and their families, looking out for their legal needs in every way. Each family law matter is handled with the utmost sensitivity to the personal aspects of the case.

How many years of experience does the firm have in Family Law? Are there any associations with which you are members?

We’ve been practicing Family Law for over 25 years. We have been a members of the American Inns of Court and the Family Court Bench Bar.

What inspired you to focus on Family Law?

Our Family Law attorney Lynn Abbott, started her career with developed a big Family Law practice. Although she was initially hired to practice in the area of civil litigation; after a few years the family law practice grew so large that she was pulled in to working on those files. Soon thereafter, she found she liked the family court work, the issues and the clientele. She soon found she was good at it and had a nice rapport with the clients. Shortly after, she developed her own caseload and clients.

Did you find it more rewarding than focusing on civil litigation?

As attorneys we are taught the tools to resolve others problems. Every practice of law is rewarding when you can help someone do that.

What are the most common family law type of cases that you handle?

Divorce is the main area, but we also do restraining orders, child custody and child support matters. We have an adoption matter right now which is a gay couple, so it’s a first for the firm, it’s called a co-parent adoption.

How do you feel that you make the legal process easier for the families who are going through some of these really trying times?

We make the legal process easier for families because of our experience and knowledge of the law and knowing how judges will view certain issues that come up in the family court forum.   With our experience we can often time fast forward the clients to resolution by explaining to them the process and potential outcomes. We try to get families to bypass all the unnecessary emotional matters.

Why would you hire your firm for a family law situation?

We are very responsive to our clients and understanding of their situation. We have a deep knowledge of their legal issues through experience and hard work. Our reputation gains the respect of Family Court Judges and court personnel. We bring compassion as well as a diligent work ethic to the client that sets us apart from most attorneys.

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