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Rhode Island Family Law – Children, Schools, Schooling And Education

Posted on June 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

Though not specifically addressed within the realm of Rhode Island divorce proceeding, a particular issue has raised its head several times in my practice over the years in the form more of a particular factual set of circumstances rather than as a direct legal issue itself.

A recent call presented this scenario from a Rhode Island lawyer and colleague who was endeavoring to assist clients with a preplexing issue. It went something like this.

Two parents who have not yet become a divorce statistic have moved across the country. Their minor child has remained with a friend (unrelated by blood or marriage to either parent) here in Rhode Island to provide consistency with the child remaining in his current school system, etc. The parents would like to have the child remain with the friend through the remainder of his or her schooling. The friend is presumably agreeable to his as long as the parents continue to provide the financial support necessary for the child and that the friend is not held responsible for any liability of the child. The friend also needs the authority to be able to act in the best interests of the child and take legal action as necessary to enroll the child in programs, receive confidential health care information regarding the child, etc…

This of course causes a variety of questions to arise that the colleague wanted my input on. The general question was, how should this be done properly (i.e. legally) to be able to accomplish what they would like to do.

The tremendous number of Rhode Island family law questions that this factual situation presents is remarkable and therefore, I will end this particular blog post with the questions it raises rather than simply providing the answer I believe is appropriate under the circumstances.

Now you may be saying…. huh . . . Chris, what the heck are you doing? This is a Rhode Island Divorce Tips blog. What you’ve set your self up for is to give us TIPS and HELP on these issues, not to give us the darn questions and have us figure it out for ourselves!

This may or may not be a semi-useless exercise but it is one that I wanted to try. True, this is a Rhode Island Divorce Tips blog and that it is my intention to give at least some general guidance regarding the issues presented as opposed to any specific legal advice. Yet the one common thread that I have found in writing this Rhode Island divorce and family law blog is that when people contact me about these issues they rarely appreciate the nature and depth of the issues or the true value that are getting by some insight from a legal professional who is trying to assist in the understanding of these issues.

In truth, it seems that Rhode Islanders, divorce and family law clients, and even other Rhode Island lawyers who don’t practice in the areas of divorce and family law have a greater appreciation of the the depth and complexity of these legal problems and issues if they at least consider the questions. . . .or by considering the number and type of questions that present themselves to a legal practitioner when he or she either endeavors to provide some helpful information on a Rhode Island legal issue
relating to divorce and family law.

Ultimately, is you consider the Rhode divorce and family law questions presented before receiving the answer directly, you gain a better understanding and appreciation of what legal professionals offer in their services and perhaps why their education is so costly which often necessitates rates that seem out of whack with today’s minimum wage.

All this digression from the topic aside, consider these various questions that this scenario presents:

1. Can an unrelated person be given legal authority over all aspects of their minor child’s life?

2. Can custodial rights be given or assigned to another person?

3. What are the bodies of rights that a parent has with respect to a child?

4. How would you absolve people who take in your child from any liability for decisions relating to your child?

5. If you have your child stay with an unrelated person iin a particular school district n order to keep the child in a particular school system, is this perpetrating a fraud upon the school department.

6. If you can place your minor child with another person voluntarily and you do so, what are your obligations to support that minor child?

7. If place your minor child with an unrelated person voluntarily and with the person’s consent and agree to continue to support the child but assign the child’s care to that unrelated person, who is responsible for the minor child’s transgressions if he or she decides to damage school property?

The questions are truly endless. What are your thoughts? What else should you consider? These are all questions that are very specific and your matter is factually driven. There is no real set answer to any general questions such as these that could be included in an article such as this. In my opinion, the best you can hope for is to be informed and to think about all the concerns that need to be presented to the Rhode Island attorney that your approach to seek guidance about your factual situation.

When approaching an attorney about these issues, list all the issues and concerns in the form of questions and present to the attorney a detailed picture of all the facts and relationships based on all the possible scenarios that may be encountered both by you as a parent or as a caregiver for the child. It is only be identifying all the facts and the anticipated issues that you want the caregiver to address and/or be protected on when executing those duties that a good Rhode Island family law practitioner will be able to provide you with sound legal advice to address your particular facts and circumstances.

Be Prepared – Your Child’s Initial PPT Meeting – Special Education

Posted on June 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

Many parents have an extra responsibility when it comes to their children’s education. Every year these parents attend their child’s Planning and Placement Team meeting. Any child with a designation within the special education spectrum has one of these meetings every year. These designations include learning and intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, autism, other health impairments (ADD/ADHD, etc) and many others. Attending these meetings can be daunting and intimidating to non-educational members of the team. It doesn’t have to be though. If a parent is prepared for the meeting and knows the ‘drill’ it should be much less difficult.

Annual PPT’s are held every year at the same time. Legally there must be a meeting every year within 365 days and a triennial every 3 years. The triennial is a meeting to determine if a child is still eligible for special education. I am jumping ahead here a little, let’s start at the beginning.

If your child has never had a special education designation, a member of the school community, yourself or your doctor may suggest that your child is tested to determine if he or she needs extra support. Sometimes it is obvious (your child may have autism, down’s syndrome, or a physical disability) and other times additional testing needs to be completed to determine eligibility.

  1. The first step is for you or school personnel to start the process. If you initiate the process (through a written letter – example to be shown) the school must hold an initial meeting called a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting. At this meeting a number of individuals may be present. This will include a building administrator, special education teacher, a regular education teacher, the school psychologist, guidance counselor, school nurse, transition coordinator and anyone else deemed necessary. Your child’s strengths and weaknesses will be discussed and you will be asked for your input and what your concerns are. You must also sign a permission to test form. Withholding permission will stop the process. The school district may determine that legal mediation is necessary at this time. A multi-disciplinary will be conducted to determine eligibility and must be completed within 45 of the initiation of services. Therefore, a full evaluation must be completed from the date the school receives your letter (or is internally referred by school personnel) within 45 school days. Weekends and vacations do not count.
  2. At the 2nd meeting it will be determined whether or not your child qualifies for special education services. For placement in special education, you must give your written consent. This can be withdrawn but you should seek the advice of an educational lawyer or advocate if you plan to do this. If it is determined that your child does not qualify for special education services, ask about a qualification under a 504 designation. You can disagree with any of the decisions made and have it noted in the Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is the map that school personnel will use to guide them in servicing your child’s educational needs. You also have the option of disputing your position through the courts. The school district I work in tries to work with parents and avoid this altogether. If you win your case, the school district must pay your legal bills. It is suggested that you bring another individual with you (spouse, friend, pastor) for positive support. You should write down the concerns you have: strengths, what your child needs the most help with, goals that you want your child to succeed.
  3. If you child will be transitioning from high school to college or the world of work, a transition plan must be developed as well. Be prepared to discuss what you see for your child. Your teen will also be at this meeting (starts attending around 8th grade) and be asked what their interests and dreams are. You can help him or her in discussing this beforehand.
  4. Standardized testing will be discussed and it will be determined whether your child needs extra time, special setting or a reader (or any other number of accommodations).
  5. A modification page will be in the Individual Education Plan; you should ask for a copy of this page and make suggestions that you think are necessary for your child to succeed without enabling him/her.
  6. The number of hours your child will be serviced by special education personnel, counseling staff, etc. will be determined.
  7. Goals and objectives will be written for any areas that your child needs additional help in. This can include reading, math, writing, general academics, behavior, self-help skills, communication and other areas as necessary.
  8. Make sure to ask questions if you have them and get the name and number of at least one member of the team that you can talk to if you have any concerns or questions about your child, the IEP or PPT meeting.
  9. IEP’s generally go into effect 5 days after the meeting or sooner if agreed to by the team. The school is obligated to get you a copy of the IEP within 5 days of the PPT meeting. Any questions you have (or disagreements with the plan) should be directed to a member of the team (usually a special education teacher or administrator).
  10. Relax, relax, relax. The more often you attend PPT’s the more comfortable and knowledgeable you will become.


Finding a Legal Translator for Your Business

Posted on June 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

As is widely known, being a professional linguist is a challenging task that requires skill, extensive experience, thorough knowledge of two or more languages and a strong educational background. Within the career path of translation, there are also many different niche markets that only certain translators are able to fulfill due to their particular expertise or experience. For example, there are people who specialize in technical translation, financial translation, medical translation, business translation and, perhaps the most complex of them all, legal translation. Legal translation is an intricate and specific art given the fact that documents needing to be converted into another language are typically highly complicated in nature. The inability to effectively translate legal content can result in miscommunications that create or change the outcome of lawsuits, leave loopholes or gaps in pertinent legal documents and cause a multitude of other problems for businesses and individuals.

It is important that individuals or companies looking to outsource this work recognize that a great translator is not necessarily a great master of all topics. Particularly in the area of legal translation, it is absolutely vital that the translator prove their credentials prior to being hired and demonstrate that their background is specifically relevant to the project at hand. Furthermore, the legal translator must be familiar with both the associated cultures and legal systems of both the source and destination languages. Without this awareness, mistranslation is likely and the legal text can easily lose its effectiveness, ultimately sound unnatural to native speakers of the destination language or be misinterpreted by readers. When cultural factors are of utmost importance, such as in the case of Islamic law or Sharia law, translators unfamiliar with the specific culture of relevance are not apt to be completing the translation.

Ultimately, hiring a translator can be costly and due diligence needs to be done in researching a translator’s capabilities before they are hired. In the case of legal matters, the failure to find legal translators that are suitable for a particular project can result in extremely expensive and problematic errors. If a document is going to be subject to usage in a courtroom or by legal professionals, it is crucial that it be translated by a proper legal translator with experience and background in dealing with material that is as similar as possible to what needs to be translated. This can include policies, contracts, trusts, wills, adoption papers and trademarks or copyrights, to name but a few. A properly certified translator or translation business should be able to provide certification and proof of expertise in their area of focus. In some cases, an official stamp or signature may even be provided to certify the text’s translation after the completion of the project. All types of translation are extremely complicated and this is important to keep in mind when looking for a translator to work on a project where any type of advanced knowledge of a topic is necessary. The translator’s experience, educational background, cultural knowledge and certifications should always be investigated prior to being hired.