Providence Legal Issues Blog

How divorced parents can help children adjust

Parents in Rhode Island who get a divorce can take a number of steps to help their children adjust. For example, parents should keep an eye on their children for signs of anxiety or depression and offer them healthy ways to cope.

It is important for parents to encourage their children to build a relationship with the other parent and not interfere with that relationship in any way. This includes not putting the child in the middle of any arguments and not oversharing details about divorce with the child and expecting the child to take sides. Parents should not use children to carry messages back and forth or question the child about what the other parent is doing. They should also avoid badmouthing the other parent in front of the child.

How to avoid the label of “Disneyland parent”

Co-parenting is likely to be a challenge, even if you and your ex-spouse get along relatively well. You both may have some differences your childrearing philosophies and ideas on which household rules and discipline techniques to implement. Not surprisingly, one of you might end up being seen as the “good” parent while the other is the wet blanket. This is especially true for parents in Rhode Island who spend a great deal of their parenting time lavishing gifts on the children or taking them on trips, while the other parent gets stuck with most of the responsibility.

This phenomenon is known as “Disneyland parenting.” Usually, it applies to the noncustodial parent, who takes the kids on vacation during visitation or showers them with everything they ask for. This does not necessarily mean the parent is a bad one. Sometimes a Disneyland parent may feel guilty for having less time to spend with the children and will try to make it up by packing as much fun as possible into visitation times. Other times, one parent may resent the ex and try to be the one the kids like more. However, being the Disneyland parent can backfire. Children will eventually learn that expensive gifts and trips do not equal quality time and unconditional love. You might prevent this in the following ways:

  • Be involved with your children’s homework, extracurricular activities and interests.
  • Stay consistent with rules and structure when the kids are visiting. You do not need to have the same rules as the other parent, but having your own routine lets them know you have expectations for them to follow.
  • Discuss parenting strategies with your ex in a civil, polite way.

Are you one of those who thinks buzzed driving is safe?

You may have gone out to dinner and had a glass of wine or two, or had only one beer when you went to the bar with friends. You may feel relaxed and fuzzy, but you are sure that you are under the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08 percent, so you figure you are safe to drive. However, you and other Rhode Island residents may want to reconsider driving with any amount of alcohol in your system, whether it is a legal amount or not.

Buzzed driving is not the same as drunk driving, you may assert. However, that warm and fuzzy feeling you have with your friends may translate to unsafe driving behaviors when you are behind the wheel, as well as a DUI.

NHTSA encourages teens and adults to stop distracted driving

Getting a driver's license is an exciting time for a young person in Rhode Island, but smartphones and entertainment consoles in vehicles create hazardous distractions. Distracted driving includes reading or writing text messages, talking on a phone or adjusting console controls. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has organized ongoing safe driving campaigns that target teens and their parents to warn them about the fatal consequences of taking their eyes off the road.

When the administration analyzed data from car accidents in 2015, it attributed the deaths of 3,477 people to distracted driving. In the same year, distracted drivers caused approximately 391,000 injuries. During daylight hours, the agency estimates that 660,000 drivers use their phones while driving down the road.

Professor says autonomous cars should not drive like humans

Rhode Island drivers who follow research into autonomous vehicles might know that a self-driving car hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March 2018. According to one Arizona State University professor, whose work in part involves developing computer systems such as those used in autonomous vehicles, there is an inherent flaw in the model of teaching self-driving cars to behave like humans.

In the Arizona fatality, video shows the pedestrian stepping into an area where there were no lights and there was not a pedestrian crosswalk moments before being hit by the car. The professor says the car was proceeding under the same assumptions held by a typical human driver -- because no obstacles can be detected, it is safe to drive as though no obstacles exist. However, he says that autonomous vehicles should always drive under the assumption that there are obstacles beyond the range of their detection. The vehicle should move at a speed that would allow it to stop if an obstacle did appear in its visual range.

Talking on cellphone increases risk of crashing

Rhode Island motorists are aware of the dangers of texting and driving. However, a meta-analysis published in the journal Human Factors found that talking on the phone and talking to other passengers while driving is also hazardous.

The analysis looked at 106 experimental studies that examined the performance of motorists who were either talking on the phone or talking to other passengers. Each study included a baseline measure of the drivers' performance when not speaking to others. Performance areas covered by the studies included the perception of hazards, driving speed, the distance between vehicles, the position of the vehicle in the lane and the driver's eye movements.

Child custody can be complex during divorce

For parents in Rhode Island going through a divorce, dealing with child custody can be one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging parts of the process. During the course of negotiating a custody agreement or going through court hearings, a set of custodial rights for both parents will be established. When the court makes decisions about each parent's role in caring for the children, it will rely on a number of factors and background materials, including the arguments of the attorneys involved and testimony from experts, psychologists and mediators. While a custody order will be established at the time of divorce, changes can later be sought due to changes in the lives of the parents or the children.

In some cases, one parent receives primary child custody or residential custody. This means that the child spends most time at this parent's home, who has the majority of caregiving responsibilities. The other parent will have scheduled visitation time with his or her child on a regular basis, which often includes weekend or overnight stays, in the absence of abuse or other serious concerns.

Daylight saving time linked to drowsy driving

Drivers in Rhode Island may be feeling more drowsy than usual after daylight saving time. With the loss of an hour, this is to be expected, but a recent AAA study has emphasized how this one hour can impact drivers' performance. Drowsy driving, which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all car wrecks in the U.S., becomes more common after daylight saving time.

The most important step is to get to bed earlier in order to make up for the loss. No amount of caffeine can cure drowsiness, only sleep can. When on the road, people should understand that though they themselves may feel refreshed, other drivers might be drowsy. Therefore, individuals should anticipate the worst. When changing lanes, they should double-check their mirrors and always use turn signals.

Will Rhode Island legalize marijuana in 2018?

If you are a Rhode Island resident who enjoys smoking an occasional joint, you probably are keeping your eye on how the “fight” to legalize marijuana in our state is going. Rather well, actually.

Just this past week, Rep. Scott Slater filed a bill in the Rhode Island House of Representatives which, if passed, will allow you to cast your vote this November to end cannabis prohibition in this state. His proposed ballot question asks whether or not you support the legalized possession and use of marijuana by people age 21 and older. If you vote yes, you agree that the Rhode Island marijuana industry, which is sure to explode, will be regulated and taxed similar to the way in which alcohol and tobacco are.

Financial planning can ease divorce pain

While many Rhode Island residents headed for marriage could not be further removed mentally from divorce court, some pragmatic individuals consider the possibility of divorce even before marriage. It is commonly accepted that health and life insurance policies are a practical hedge against unwanted circumstances. Those who make early divorce planning a priority simply see it as another type of insurance they hope to never use.

A number of strategies are available to protect assets in the event of a marriage failure, but the most well-known is the prenuptial agreement. Pre- and post-nuptial agreements are essentially contracts in which the parties agree on a divorce settlement that can be triggered by either party deciding to opt out of the marriage. There are specific procedures involved in creating a binding prenuptial agreement that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it is not a one-size-fits-all remedy.


Nicholas J. Hemond Attorney at Law
1 Turks Head Place, 12th Floor
Providence, RI 02903

Phone: 401-648-6509
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