Uncontested Divorce in Rhode Island
Spouses willing to dissolve their marriage can file for a contested or uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce occurs when fault-based grounds are used for the divorce, and the spouses cannot agree on the final terms of their divorce, like property division, child-related issues, etc., peacefully. Thus, they bring the case to court to settle their disputes.
- An uncontested divorce is when the spouses have a no-fault divorce and negotiate it out of court. To have an uncontested divorce in Rhode Island, alimony, marital property, child custody, child support, and other divorce-related issues must be resolved with a Marital Settlement Agreement and submitted for court approval.
Uncontested divorces are generally fast and affordable compared to litigation. Even though no-fault grounds don't guarantee a simple uncontested divorce, if the spouses are willing to cooperate, they can handle their divorce without addressing a law firm. The spouses can resort to divorce mediation to develop their settlement agreement or prepare their divorce forms online, using DvorceOnline.com.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Each divorce case starts with completing and filing all the required Rhode Island divorce forms with the Family Court Clerk, and different Rhode Island courts may have some unique divorce papers, depending on the county. Besides, the divorce paperwork may vary depending on individual circumstances.
In other words, completing legal forms can be highly complicated. Given that any mistake may cause delays in the case, this very first stage of preparing for the divorce process cannot be underestimated.
To help couples seeking an uncontested divorce prepare the right divorce forms and save money on legal fees, DivorceOnline.com offers its services for as little as $139.
With significant experience in document preparation, we provide only the relevant divorce documents. However, we do not sell blank forms; we help complete them following the Rhode Island Family Law and considering each couple's particular legal rights and obligations. We also provide our users with written instructions on filing the completed divorce papers with the County Clerk's Office.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Rhode Island
The Rhode Island divorce process commonly includes several consecutive steps.
To be eligible to get a divorce in Rhode Island, the couple must meet the state's residency requirements. The divorce can be granted if either the defendant or plaintiff resides in Rhode Island and has been a domiciled inhabitant of the state for at least one year before filing the divorce petition.
Rhode Island Family Law provides for both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. Filing a "fault-based" divorce means that the plaintiff alleges and proves before the court that the other spouse committed misconduct that led to the marriage breakdown. Fault grounds for divorce in Rhode Island include:
- Extreme cruelty
- Willful desertion for five years
- Continued drunkenness, the habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, and choral
- Willful neglect and refusal of support for one year despite being able to
- Gross misbehavior and wickedness ("in violation of the marriage covenant")
No-fault divorce means that neither spouse needs to prove marital misconduct for the court to grant the divorce. Rhode Island no-fault grounds for divorce include:
- Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage
- The spouses have been living apart without cohabitation for at least three years (if neither party appeals that decision within 20 days, separation can be considered as the basis for issuing a final judgment)
The legal process of divorce in Rhode Island begins when the plaintiff files the initial divorce documents with the Family Court Clerk (the Domestic Relations Division of the Superior Court).
Divorce papers in Rhode Island
The primary Rhode Island legal forms needed to start a divorce case include:
- Complaint for Divorce or Divorce From Bed and Board
- Statement of Assets, Liabilities, Income, and Expenses (DR6 Form)
- Copy of the marriage certificate
If the spouses have minor children, they also have to file:
- Statement Listing Children
- Family Services Counseling Report Form
- Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act
- Schedule for Visitation for Minor Children
- Child Support Guidelines, Worksheet and Income Form
Other forms that the spouses may need during the further stages of the divorce process vary from county to county and depend on the circumstances of a particular couple.
The plaintiff must pay a mandatory court filing fee when filing Rhode Island divorce papers. This fee is $160, but if the plaintiff cannot afford it, they may ask the court to waive it by filing Motion, Affidavit, and Order to Proceed In Forma Pauperis.
Once all the initial forms have been filed and the filing fee is charged, the case obtains a docket number and is assigned to a specific local court.
Rhode Island does not have a waiting period between filing a divorce petition and the date of the final hearing. Instead, the law requires a three-month waiting period after the hearing and the judge's decision so that the divorce decree can be granted.
Once the completed divorce forms are filed in the local courthouse, the plaintiff must "serve" the defendant with the copies of the Complaint and Summons. The plaintiff can serve the divorce papers in the following ways:
- by hiring a county sheriff or a county constable;
- via regular and certified mail; or
- if the plaintiff doesn't know where the defendant resides, they may ask the court for permission to use service by publication (for example, in a newspaper).
The first court hearing is called the nominal date in Rhode Island. If both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, the order can be issued on this date. The judge reviews all the submitted papers and documents, and if everything is completed correctly and the parties' agreements are fair, the judge grants a "nominal divorce."
Then, the spouses have to file a Decision Pending Entry of Final Judgment form within thirty days of the date of the decision. According to Rhode Island law, the divorce decree becomes final three months after the hearing.
Getting a Divorce With Children
There are two forms of child custody: legal and physical custody, which both can be "joint" (shared) or "sole" (awarded to just one parent).
- Legal custody refers to the parent's authority to make significant healthcare, educational, religious, and other decisions regarding the child's upbringing. In Rhode Island, many parents share legal custody of their children.
- Physical custody determines where the child lives and who takes care of the child daily. Thus, the parent with primary physical custody has more time with the child, and the noncustodial parent is granted visitation according to the agreed schedule pays child support.
Divorcing parents can reach their own custody agreements independently or with the help of a mediator and submit them for judge approval. However, if they cannot agree, the custody determination is at the judge's discretion. The court typically considers numerous factors and circumstances of a particular case to determine the child's best interests.
These factors include but are not limited to:
- each parent's wishes for custody;
- the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other family members;
- the child's preferences regarding their custodian (if the child is of sufficient age and maturity);
- each parent's willingness and ability to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- each parent's willingness and ability to recognize and meet the child's needs and to provide the child with a stable environment;
- the child's adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- each parent's physical and mental health;
- each parent's moral fitness;
- any history of domestic violence and abuse;
- other factors the court may deem relevant.
As for child support, the Rhode Island General Laws state that either or both spouses can be owed a duty of supporting their child by paying an amount based upon a formula and Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines, which apply in most cases.
The amount of child support is calculated based on the parents' monthly gross income, which includes income from all sources. Debts, additional support obligations, health insurance or medical payments, the number of children to be supported, etc., must also be considered.
Typically, child support obligations last until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school.
Filing for Divorce in Rhode Island Without a Lawyer
Although a lawyer's assistance is necessary in complicated contested cases, an uncontested divorce can often be handled with limited-scope legal representation or without an attorney at all.
If you and your spouse agree to have a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences and negotiate any disputed issues out of court, you can reduce legal costs. For example, you can resort to alternative dispute resolution methods like divorce mediation to develop the Settlement Agreement or take advantage of cheap and easy-to-use online divorce services to prepare all the required paperwork.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Rhode Island
The spouses attempting a DIY divorce without a lawyer can get Rhode Island divorce forms from the family court in their county or download blank forms from the Rhode Island Judiciary's website. However, the provided primary divorce forms can be insufficient, and it can be difficult and time-consuming to select the correct documents and fill them out without mistakes.
To avoid paperwork hassles, the spouses who do not need legal advice can benefit from DivorceOnline.com. For just $139, our online divorce website offers a quick and straightforward step-by-step document preparation process.
Just follow the questionnaire on the website and get your ready-to-file divorce forms completed according to your particular circumstances in only two business days.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Most uncontested divorces in Rhode Island take about 75-90 days after filing the Complaint. However, this timeline may vary depending on multiple factors, including whether the spouses require temporary court orders, the service of process used, etc. In contrast, contested divorces in Rhode Island typically take much longer, about a year.
An average uncontested divorce in Rhode Island may cost about $3,000-$4,000, considering legal fees and court costs. The exact amount is hard to predict as it depends on the circumstances of a particular case, like whether the spouses hire a lawyer, mediator, or other specialists, etc. To reduce divorce costs, the spouses can use DivorceOnline.com and get all the required divorce forms and filing instructions for just $139.
Each divorce case starts with paying a court filing fee. This fee is mandatory for all plaintiffs except those eligible for a fee waiver due to low income. To ask the court to consider a fee waiver, the plaintiff must file the Motion, Affidavit, and Order to Proceed In Forma Pauperis form with the court, showing that they have income less than 150% of the poverty guidelines.
Legal forms provided for divorce cases include but are not limited to Complaint for Divorce or Divorce From Bed and Board, Summons, Statement of Assets, Liabilities, Income, and Expenses (DR6 Form), Verification, Answer, Family Services Counseling Report Form, Income Withholding for Support, Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, Child Support Guidelines and Worksheet.