Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rhode Island Restraining Order Laws Run Amok

Last week I was again able to help an individual facing a Complaint for Protection from Domestic Abuse in the Rhode Island Family Court. In my experience, these Complaints (commonly known as Restraining Orders) generally fall into one of three categories:

1) Legitimate Abuse and Fear Perpetrated by the Defendant upon the Plaintiff (individual seeking protection);
2) Abuse of the Court's Power and Authority to Continue Personal Disputes; and
3) Abuse of the Court's Power to Settle Issues Concerning Child Custody and Visitation

Unfortunately, all too often these Restraining Orders are sought for reasons Number 2 and 3. In my most recent case, my client was divorced from the Plaintiff and they had two children in common. The Plaintiff had physical custody (placement) of the children and my client, the Defendant, had unsupervised visitation every other weekend.

I knew this Restraining Order was clearly a Type 3 from the moment my client started discussing the situation. The Plaintiff and Defendant constantly fought about issues regarding the pickup, drop-off, where the kids were going to be, who was going to be taking care of them, and almost every other issue that one can think of.

At the date scheduled for Hearing, I was able to work with the Plaintiff on behalf of the Defendant to settle these custody and visitation issues. With the help of Domestic Violence Victim services we were able to have the Restraining Order petition DISMISSED and have the court enter an order on the parties old divorce case. The order set forth the ground rules that each party must follow for visitation and custody to function properly. Both parties left court relieved and their situations improved.

However, this pleasant outcome should not overshadow the fact that Restraining Orders are continually abused to gain the upper hand in custody and personal matters and one must carefully approach these situations or risk ending up with a three-year restraining order against them.

If you have any questions or problems with either defending or prosecuting a Restraining Order in Rhode Island, my office would be happy to work with you to bring your case to a positive resolution. Call us now at 401-228-8271 and ask for Matthew Marin or Katherine Godin.

For more information about our firm visit our website at: http://www.matthewtmarin.com/