The Rhode Island Divorce Process

While Rhode Island has a ninety-day waiting period for divorces, your case will not necessarily be resolved within ninety days. The Rhode Island divorce process for simple cases can often be finished in less than six months, while complicated cases could take over a year to complete.  You cannot remarry until the court enters your final judgment of divorce.

Initiating a Dissolution

Divorce Decree with Gavel

To start the Dissolution process, either you or your spouse needs to file a Complaint for Divorce with the court. The individual who files the Complaint is known as the “Plaintiff,” and the person who is served the Complaint (either in person or by mail) is the “Defendant.”  When a Rhode Island divorce is initiated, your case can be placed on one of two tracks, either the “Nominal,” or uncontested track, or the “Contested” track.

By placing your case on the “Nominal” track, you are essentially informing the court that there are no unresolved issues between you and your spouse, or that any issues that remain will most likely be resolved prior to the initial court date, typically 45 to 60 days from the filing of the divorce petition.  If you and your attorney feel that the issues will not be resolved in that time period, the matter may be placed on the Contested track.

Responding to a Petition

Once the Defendant receives the Complaint, he or she has 20 days to file an Answer to the facts outlined in the Petition. (In some cases, the Plaintiff’s attorney will allow for more than 20 days.) Once an Answer is filed by the Defendant, the parties may commence the discovery process.

If support and custody disputes are a concern, then an Motion for Temporary Allowances is also filed. As a result, a hearing will be heard sooner than normal so that custody, support, or restraining orders can be made.

Discovery Process

To complete discovery, both sides must provide certain documentation and answer questions asked by the other side. The purpose of this discovery is for you to learn about all the assets, debits and issues that must be divided and resolved to complete your divorce. The law also requires each party complete mandatory disclosures of income, assets, and liabilities, which must also be filed with the court (Form DR6).

Dividing Property

At some point, both the parties may reach agreement and reduce that agreement to writing in the form of a Property Settlement Agreement, which equitably divides marital property and outlines child custody and support issues. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement regarding these issues, the court will set a trial so the judge can decide these issues.

Dividing property and dividing debt does not need to be completed in the traditional sense of “splitting.” For instance, you would not necessarily need to share the proceeds from the sale of your home 50/50. Instead, one party could take the proceeds from the sale while the other Party could receive the assets held in an investment account of equal value. Similarly with debt, if one party takes a debt that belongs to both, then that debt is deducted from the assets received by the other Party.

Experience Counts

Schedule a consultation with Attorney Christopher E. Friel today to discuss your options in divorce. He will work with you to find the fastest and most amicable resolution to your family law concerns.  Contact him today at 401-737-4200 extension 23.