Rhode Island divorce details
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Uncontested VS Contested Divorce in Rhode Island
There are two main types of divorce - contested and uncontested.
- If you decide to contest your divorce case, you should be ready for long litigation, numerous court hearings, and huge expenses on attorney fees. Contested divorce usually occurs when one of the spouses wants to divorce and the other doesn’t. Such divorces are granted based on one spouse's misconduct, which is typically taken into account during property division.
- Nowadays, Uncontested divorce is much more popular nationwide, and Rhode Island is not an exception. Uncontested divorce implies that the spouses’ desire to divorce is mutual, and they are ready to reach an agreement on all the most important terms of the case at court. An uncontested divorce includes only a brief court hearing, and the spouses don’t need to hire attorneys.
Uncontested Divorce in Rhode Island
The main part of an uncontested divorce is negotiation. You must be sure that you and your spouse are able to discuss your problems honestly and constructively. You should independently make all the decisions that are made by the court in the case of a contested divorce. All your agreed terms of divorce must be written in the Marital Settlement Agreement, and this document must be signed and notarized.
Grounds for Divorce in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a mixed state, so you can file for divorce based on both no-fault or fault grounds. No-fault grounds are suitable for filing for an uncontested divorce, and all the fault grounds must be proven before the court.
No-fault grounds for divorce in Rhode Island include:
- Irremediable breakdown of the marriage (conflict of interest or other personal reasons you are not required to disclose).
- You and your spouse live separate and apart for at least three years.
Fault grounds for divorce in Rhode Island include:
- Abandonment or presumed dead.
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction.
- Willful desertion for five years (or less, at the discretion of the court).
- Cruel and inhuman treatment.
- Gross neglect.
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Rhode Island Residency Requirements to File for Divorce
To be eligible to divorce in Rhode Island, either one or both spouses must be a resident of the state for at least one year before filing "the Complaint for Divorce".
You can file for divorce in your county if your spouse is not a resident of Rhode Island.
In addition, if you or your spouse is a military member, the dislocation in Rhode Island may be equated to the residency in the state.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Rhode Island
If you decide to file for an uncontested divorce relevant no-fault grounds, and meet all the residency requirement, you are ready to start your divorce case.
The main steps of the process are common for every couple, though you should note it may differ depending on your individual case.
- File the Complaint for divorce, the Verification, and the Summons with the family court clerk at your local courthouse.
- Make copies of the paperwork and serve your spouse with them. Afterwards, your spouse has 20 days to respond to the petition.
- The waiting period before the hearing is about 75 days after filing with the court. In certain cases, it may be waived.
- Attend the final hearing. Both spouses must be present. Both of you need to testify with your witnesses.
- Nevertheless, after the decision is issued by the Family Court, the divorce is still not finalized. There is one more waiting period (it may last up to 90 days depending on the case). After this waiting period, the court processes the "Final Judgment".
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Rhode Island
DIY divorce, or Pro Se divorce is a divorce without an attorney. In Rhode Island, you may represent yourself before the court.
It is not accepted for a contested divorce, but if your uncontested case is rather simple, you can most likely handle it independently.
DIY divorce is a perfect option if you don’t have children or a lot of property to divide. If you are well-organized, responsible, and able to cooperate with your spouse, you may try to arrange a do-it-yourself divorce by making a successful Settlement Agreement. Learn more about the steps of a DIY divorce in Rhode Island online and don’t ignore online legal support or mediation if any difficulties arise.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
A cost of uncontested divorce starts with a cost of a filing fee - an initial payment for the court service. In Rhode Island, it costs around $160 and the amount may vary by county. The final cost of an uncontested case may also include service of process fees (about $45), mediation fees, and several others. And the flat fees for attorneys for uncontested case are typically between $700 and $1,200.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in Rhode Island?
Each divorce case is unique, and Rhode Island family law takes it into account.
In general, uncontested divorce in Rhode Island court hearings start 75 days after filing the Petition, but this waiting period may be canceled in some cases. In order to get a divorce as soon as papers are submitted, the spouses sign a form that requests an expedited treatment and state before the court that their marriage is irreparably broken.
One more “waiting period” begins after the hearing. Depending on the ground for dissolution, it can be 21 or 90 days (21 if the spouses lived separate and apart for at least 3 years, and 90 if the ground was claimed as “irreconcilable differences”).
How to Serve Your Spouse in Rhode Island
To "serve" means to deliver the initial divorce paperwork, namely, the Complaint for divorce, the Summons, and the Verification (copies) to the non-filing spouse ("Defendant").
You can't do it at your discretion. In Rhode Island, there are two legal ways of notifying your spouse about the divorce:
- You may use the Sheriff's service in the county where your spouse lives or works. The Sheriff hands the papers to your spouse personally and provides you with proof that the delivery was successful.
- You may use the help of a Private Constable who is authorized in Rhode Island to this job. The Constable serves your spouse in the same way as the Sheriff does. The fee (typically $40-45) is charged for both of these services.
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Documents You Need to Get a Divorce in Rhode Island
Although the forms and documents needed for divorce may vary case to case, there are generals documents that should be filled out by all the individuals filing for divorce in Rhode Island:
- Complaint for Divorce or Divorce From Bed and Board
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Statement of Assets, Liabilities, Income and Expenses
- Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service
- Notice of Hearing
- Final Judgment of Divorce
If you have minor children, you will also need:
- Schedule for Visitation for Minor Children
- Child Support Guideline Worksheet
- Income Withholding for Support
- Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA)
Online Divorce in Rhode Island
Online divorce refers to the process of preparing all the necessary documents accurately through an online service. You just need to order the papers, pay the filing fee, print out the documents, and file them at court. Such a process can help you save a lot of money as compared to getting the documents completed with the help of an attorney. For just $149, you can rest assured that the documents are prepared accurately and on time to be approved by the court.
However, that is not all. In the state of Rhode Island, you may also file the Petition online. To be eligible for it, you just need to register to use the court’s electronic filing system.
Rules for Child Support and Visitation in Rhode Island
Child custody and visitation should be decided by the parents outside of the court if it is an uncontested divorce. The judge will consider the proposed parenting plan and approve it if it’s in the child’s best interest. If the parents fail to make their own agreement regarding custody and visitation, the court will decide it according to the numerous factors of the particular case.
Generally, in Rhode Island, there are few models of how this significant issue can be solved:
- Physical Placement defines with whom the child lives.
The 3 types of Physical Placement are physical custody, shared, and split physical placement.
Physical custody means that one parent is the custodian. They live with the child and is responsible for everyday care.
Shared physical placement is rather rare and implies that the child has two residencies at the same time, or at least spends a significant amount of time with each parent (for example, one parent’s home is the primary residence of the child, but the other parent has alternate weeks or even months).
Split physical placement. If the spouses have more than one child, the number of children living with each parent will be split.
- Legal Custody defines who has authority to make the major decisions of the child’s upbringing including educational, healthcare, ethical, and religious issues.
Sole legal custody is appointed to the parent with physical custody. Sole legal custody means that when deciding some important changes in the child’s life, there is no need to consult with the other parent.
Joint legal custody is a quite common option. Even if the child lives with one parent, they may still have a close and amicable relationship with the other parent. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights, communicates with the child, and has a right to know what’s going on in their lives as well as participate in important decisions.
As for child support, which is usually paid by the non-custodial parent, the amount must be calculated with the "Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines". The spouses may agree on a higher amount of child support if they want to.
Rules for Spousal Support in Rhode Island
Spousal support, or alimony, is a one-time or periodic payment from one spouse to the other who has low income and can’t support themselves for some reason.
Rhode Island is not a very “alimony-friendly” state and spousal support is granted very rarely. Usually, the one-time payment or short-time payments with a “rehabilitative” purpose may be awarded.
When deciding on spousal support, the court takes into account the length of the marriage; each spouse’s conduct, age, health, special needs, earning capacity, and contribution to the family welfare (including non-marital); custody arrangement; and other factors.
Division of Property in Rhode Island
As for division of property, the state of Rhode Island follows equitable distribution laws.
This means that unless the spouses divided all their property independently and included their decision into the Settlement Agreement, the court will allocate the property in a fair manner at its own discretion (proportions may vary depending on the situation and does not necessarily mean equal division).
Under the equitable division rules, only marital property is subject to division. As a result, you should distinguish between what is marital and what is separate.
- Marital property is all property earned, acquired and collected during the marriage, regardless of whose name it is registered under.
- Separate (non-marital) property is anything each spouse had before the marriage. Also, personal gifts and inheritances given to one spouse remain and belong to the initial owners.
The decision about what would be equitable is made by the court based on a lot of factors such as: length of the marriage; the spouses’ conduct; each spouse’s age, health, and employability; each spouse’s contribution to the family welfare both as breadwinner or homemaker; the contribution of one spouse to the other’s education and professional improvement; and so on.
Division of Debt in Rhode Island
Marital debt should be divided under the same justly principles as other marital property is divided.
The judge allocates the debt, taking into account whether one of the spouses wasted marital property; in other words, who caused and collected the debt, and what the purpose of it was.
Divorce Mediation in Rhode Island
Mediation is a popular option to resolve the most complicated divorce issues in a dignified way. The spouses who want to reach an agreement about property, assets, support, and custody attend a number of meetings with a qualified mediator - the specialist who helps to negotiate constructively and efficiently.
Unlike a judge, a mediator can’t order anything, and unlike an attorney, a mediator can’t represent one spouse’s interests. The mediator’s aim is to encourage and help the couple to cooperate for the sake of a mutually beneficial settlement agreement. The mediator can give some advice, but only if the spouses ask for it.
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How to Divorce a Missing Spouse in Rhode Island
Under Chapter 5 of Rhode Island Divorce law, the divorce proceedings can’t be entered until the Defendant is properly notified about the divorce case. If the Petitioner can’t contact the Defendant and there is no opportunity to serve them with the divorce paperwork, a notice by publication is considered to be a legally acceptable way of serving.
Foremost, you should do your best to find your missing spouse. You must describe all your efforts in the special “Affidavit of diligent search” form and submit it to the court. If the court approves, you may be ordered to use an alternate service like publishing the notice in a local newspaper or even taking the notice directly to your spouse.
These methods are used as a last resort, and divorce by publication can be a rather expensive and time-consuming process. Sometimes, it can take up to 6 months just to complete a diligent search.
Default Divorce in Rhode Island
In general, default divorce is what occurs in case of a divorce by publication. Divorce is granted without the participation of the second party, and the Petitioner is granted what they requested in the Petition.
Default judgment is also entered when the Defendant fails to answer the Petition (refuses or ignores it) within 20 days after they were served, or doesn't attend the final hearing.
Annulment of Marriage in Rhode Island
An annulment differs from a divorce in that instead of ending a legal marriage, it claims the marriage as invalid from the very beginning, like it never existed at all.
Not every marriage can be terminated by annulment. In every state, there is a list of grounds for an annulment. In Rhode Island they are:
- Incest (closer in relation than first cousin).
- Mental incompetence (at the time of marriage).
- Refusal to have sexual intercourse.
Legal Separation in Rhode Island
Legal separation is a procedure that is very similar to divorce but has its own peculiarities. Under legal separation, spouses divide their property, rights, and liabilities, and take the same steps as a regular divorce. But in the end, they still remain officially married and are not allowed to remarry.
Legal separation may be chosen if the couple is in a rush to separate, but don’t meet the residency requirements for divorce; or if they are afraid of losing insurance or some other benefits.
Same-Sex Divorce in Rhode Island
Same-sex marriage the same-sex-divorce were recognized in the state of Rhode Island in August 2013.
Nowadays, the divorce options, laws, and rules are equally available for every couple at the verge of divorce regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
If the couple lived as a marriage union prior to having an opportunity to legally marry, there may be some difficulties with property division. For example, what part of the property should be considered as marital? In such cases, the spouses should try to make their own settlement agreement (maybe with the help of mediator), if they don’t want litigation.
Military Divorce in Rhode Island
All military spouses are protected by the following federal laws - the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act. This states that all military members are protected from default judgment against them and the divorce may be postponed while the military spouse is on active duty. As for uncontested divorce, the military duty spouse may not have to be served as long as they file a waiver affidavit.
The rule refers to the military retirement payments. These pensions can’t be divided, unless the spouses were married for at least 10 years while the spouse was on active military. In addition, the sum of spousal or child support can’t be higher than 60% of military allowances.
How to Divorce a Spouse in Jail in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, there are no special rules on how to divorce an inmate spouse, so you’d better consult the clerk of your county to learn more.
Every case is unique, and you may even try to agree with your spouse on a default divorce.The point is that under the Rhode Island law, both spouses must attend the final hearing. As a result, a lot depends on the circumstances and conditions of your spouse’s conviction.
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Rhode Island Divorce Filing Fee
Court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using DivorceFiller.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
Can a Filing Fee Be Waived?
If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you should file "the Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis". This is a special form that provides the court with information about your financial hardship and proves to the court that the fee must be waived for you.
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