We thought we had seen it all in Rhode Island Family Court. We were wrong! A gentleman unearthed an obscure RI statute, Rhode Island General law 15-4-11. This law is located in Chapter 15-4, “Married Women’s Rights.” This dude had tons of chutzpah, asking the Court to represent his wife in the divorce. He even went a step further. He attempted to act as her purported lawyer seeking to fire her actual divorce attorney. SAY IT AIN’T SO!
“Your honor, I would like to represent my wife in our divorce….”
The man argued in pertinent part that his wife’s RI divorce attorney, “is herein demanded to cease and desist his representation of my wife and return to her any funds received from her.” Providence Journal Article.
Absurd argument gets an A for effort and creativity and F for common sense
The Man stated, “I as her husband and true agent/attorney in fact have the sole and only authority to present [sic] my wife. My authority being recognized and secured of Holy Writ, Common Law and the Laws of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” Id. This is really a true story. Crazy but true!
Not surprisingly, his motion was denied
He does earn some points for creativity and legal research. Surprisingly, This statute is still the law in RI. However, it is of dubious validity. This statute states “§ 15-4-11 Agent for husband – Husband as agent. – The wife may act as agent or attorney of her husband, and the husband may act as the agent or attorney of his wife.” I could only imagine a husband representing his wife in a divorce against himself. I guess the guy would make out with all the marital assets.
If you cite this statute in any Rhode Island court, you risk being committed to a mental institution
Read the Family Court article here: “Husband in Rhode Island Divorce Cites Obscure State Law.” (unfortunately the Providence Journal has removed this gem! 9/10/13 editor’s note. HOWEVER, after a comprehensive search, I was able to uncover a site which scraped this article! Read it here! http://www.debtorboards.com/index.php?topic=4725.0 )
Quote from Projo article
“PROVIDENCE — In a divorce case, a Pawtucket man is claiming he can fire his wife’s lawyer and sign his wife’s name on a contract to sell the couple’s house because a little-known section of state law says a husband may act as his wife’s attorney or agent. But a Family Court magistrate has rejected the man’s attempt to dismiss his wife’s lawyer. And the woman’s lawyer says it’s “absurd” to think a husband can act on his wife’s behalf without her permission. The dispute between Daniel R. Chaput, 59, of 110 Woodside Ave., Pawtucket, and Denise Chaput, 55, of 96 Arch St., Pawtucket, is being magnified because the the Steel Horse International Trust, which signed a contract to buy the couple’s house, filed a federal lawsuit and is intervening in the divorce case, saying it has a valid contract and is relying on that section of state law.”
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.