How To Get Divorced in Rhode Island
The Divorce Process and Timeline
While everyone considering a divorce is concerned about how much time they will get to spend with their children or who will keep the house, for some clients, speed is the critical factor: "How quickly can I get divorced in Rhode Island?"
For other clients, money is a critical issue: "How much does it cost to get divorced in Rhode Island?"
The answer to both of these questions is largely up to you and your spouse. If you work together, or with your lawyers, to reach agreement on property division and child custody, the divorce process can be completed in as few as 75 days and at a very reasonable price.
Our goal at The Family and Consumer Law Center of Claude Lefebvre and Christopher Lefebvre, P.C., is to help you arrive at a divorce quickly and affordably, while achieving your critical goals. Call to talk to a highly experienced RI and MA divorce lawyer in our Pawtucket or Providence office: 401-728-6060 (toll-free at 800-851-1829). Your initial consultation is free.
How to Get Divorced in RI: The Process
The exact amount of time it takes for your divorce to be completed will depend on whether you have been living separately and for how long, and on whether you and your spouse have agreed upon all of the issues of your divorce.
Filing for Divorce: You will need to work with your attorney to prepare a divorce petition and financial documents. When these papers are filed with the Court, you will be assigned a "nominal divorce" hearing date approximately 11 weeks from the date of filing. Your spouse will then need to be properly served with the legal paperwork.
You may need a temporary court order to say who can live in the house, who will pay which bills, where the children will live, etc., for the period of time before your divorce is final. If you ask, a temporary hearing will be scheduled about 5 weeks from filing.
Nominal Divorce Hearing: If you and your spouse are in agreement, or if your spouse fails to file a response with the Court or to show up at the hearing, this is the only hearing you will attend. The judge can issue a ruling.
If your spouse does not attend, you will need to bring two witnesses with you who can attest the following: that one or both of you meet the State residency requirement; that the marriage was troubled; and that you have (or have not) been living apart. If both spouses are in attendance, you will only need one witness.
If you and your spouse have been living apart for 3 years or more, you can get a "separate and apart" divorce immediately. If you have not been apart for 3 years, the judge can grant a "nominal divorce" but you will need to complete the mandatory 3 month waiting period before your Rhode Island divorce becomes final.
Contested Divorce in Rhode Island Court
If you and your spouse have not been able to agree on ALL of the issues of your divorce by the date of the nominal hearing, your case will be moved to the "contested divorce" track and you will be assigned a date for a "case management" or "status" conference. At this meeting, your attorneys will meet with the judge to explain the issues that are not yet decided. The judge may offer suggestions.
A pre-trial conference date will be set and the attorneys will prepare paperwork documenting the issues, the facts the parties plan to prove in court, and the names of witnesses.
You and your spouse can reach agreement at any time up until the judge issues a decision. As soon as an agreement is reached, the judge will hold a nominal divorce hearing. The judge will then affirm your agreement and the divorce is done (the 3 month-waiting period may apply).
If the parties do not reach agreement, the case will go to trial. Both parties will present evidence and witnesses to support their case and the judge will issue a decision.
Finalizing the Divorce
After a nominal divorce or a contested divorce trial, the attorneys will draft a final divorce agreement that includes property settlement and child custody matters. This document must be presented to the court and approved by the judge.
A divorce lawyer at The Family and Consumer Law Center can help you understand the requirements of Rhode Island divorce law. Call for a free initial consultation. Contact our Pawtucket or Providence law office or call 401-728-6060 (toll-free at 800-851-1829).