This article contain a very importnat family court tip for pro-se litigants in providence Family Court. Pro-se* litigants often make fundamental mistakes in Providence Family Court including not understanding how to address the Judge. Also, self-represented parties also fail to understand what are proper arguments and improper arguments in Rhode Island Family Court
One of the biggest mistakes Pro- Se litigants make is not shutting up or quitting while they are ahead!
If a family court litigant can afford a RI Family Law Lawyer representing him then he should get one. Last week, I was watching a post divorce, custody and visitation hearing in Providence Family Court and the Judge was chastising the father of the child for not allowing the mother certain visitation rights. (The dad had temporary physical placement / custody as a result of mother’s drug and alcohol abuse. Father had previously filed an ex-parte** emergency motion for temporary placement of the children and the children were placed with him on a temporary basis.)
Fathers arguments were unjustified and heavy handed and the judge was focused on his conduct, that was not in the best interest of the minor children. The judge did not like the fact that he was not facilitation the children’s relationship with the mother, among other things. Father was on the ropes so to speak and the judge was pestering him with questions and was unhappy with his conduct. Issues involved phone calls and communications between mother and the children as well as moms progress with substance abuse treatment as well as issues concerning supervised visitation.
It was time for mother to sit back and enjoy the scenery, she at that moment in time had the upper hand. Dad was damaging his own case without any assistance or commentary from mother.
But mother interrupted the Judge and decided she wanted to get in her two cents while the judge was speaking. Mother wanted to get in the knockout punch, so to speak, while the judge had dad on the ropes! This angered the judge who had to tell her to keep quite while he was talking. This also shifted the judges attention to her history of alcohol abuse etc.
If your opponent in Rhode Island Family Court is making a fool of himself, on the ropes or making dumb arguments and the judge is making your case then – SHUT UP!
Let your ex-husband or ex-boyfriend/ ex-girlfriend ruin her own case with her own words or testimony. In other words if your winning keep quiet! This is especially the case if you are not snow white or have your own set of skeletons in your closet. In the case discussed above, mom had her own issues with alcohol.
* “pro se” means a party is acting as their own attorney
** “ex- parte” means without notice to the opposing counsel and without them present to tell their side