Divorce in Rhode Island

Divorce in Rhode Island

Divorce in Rhode Island

A brief guide to divorce in Rhode Island

Spouses who are planning to temporarily separate or end their marriages in Rhode Island should be aware of the following:

Rhode Island state divorce laws

Plaintiffs filing for divorce in Rhode Island must have been residents for at least one year.

Grounds for divorce

Except in cases of no-fault divorce, there are eight valid grounds to file a complaint for an at-fault divorce:

• Adultery

• Desertion for five years (may be for less time at the court’s discretion)

• Bigamy

• Impotence

• Addiction to drugs or alcohol

• Abandonment

• Emotional or physical abuse

• Neglect of marital duties 

Legal separation

Couples who are not sure whether they want to divorce in Rhode Island or who do not wish to do so on religious grounds may file for a legal separation. This is a legally binding document establishing guidelines for child custody, alimony and other issues that would normally be considered during a divorce. The terms of this legal separation may later be applied to a divorce or withdrawn if the couple reconcile.

Types of divorce

Couples cannot file a joint petition for divorce in Rhode Island even if they both wish to separate. One plaintiff must file a complaint. If their spouse agrees to the separation and on the terms of the divorce, this is a uncontested divorce. If the other party does not agree to divorce or on how to resolve any areas of dispute, this is a contested divorce.

No fault divorce

Couples may file for no fault divorce in Rhode Island by claiming irreconcilable differences. Neither spouse needs to be accused of wrongdoing for this kind of divorce to be granted. Spouses who have lived apart for three years or longer can also file for this kind of divorce in Rhode Island.

Steps in the divorce process

When a plaintiff files for divorce in Rhode Island, their spouse will be officially notified. The initial complaint will indicate whether the plaintiff believes the case will be resolved quickly (known as a “nominal track” case) or will be difficult (a “contested track” case). During the pretrial process, court-supervised negotiations will attempt to help couples who cannot agree on the terms of their separation. If no agreement can be reached, a judge will establish the terms of alimony, child custody and related matters.

Spousal support

Temporary or permanent alimony payments may be ordered by the court. The length of the marriage, each spouse’s ability to be self-supporting and other relevant circumstances will determine the duration and sum of any alimony awarded.

Child support

Either spouse may have to make monthly child support payments. To guarantee these payments, the noncustodial parent may have to post a bond with the court or agree to wage withholding. Both parents’ financial resources and the standard of living the child is accustomed to from the marriage will be among the factors taken into consideration.

Fathers’ and mothers’ rights

When child custody rights are considered, judges are not allowed to give preference to either gender.




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