Rhode Island and its divorce lawyers as well as those who intend to represent themselves in Rhode Island’s Family Court are being pulled into the mainstream of modern divorce law.
Is it my intention as a Rhode Island Family Law lawyer * to confuse you? Absolutely not. It’s my intention to call your attention some very important changes that have occurred in the Rhode Island Family Court System that were bound to occur at some point in time. After all, Rhode Island could not remain the old fashioned, unchanging state it has been for an unlimited duration of time.
Effective October 1, 2011, a new DR-6 Statement of Current Assets, Liabilities, Income and Expenses has been created. Pursuant to Rhode Island Administrative Court Orders 1987-2, 2011-4, and 2011-5, the RI Family Court’s new DR-6 is required at the time of filing Rhode Island divorces, Motions for Temporary Support, Motions for Custody, and Motions for Counsel Fees.
This form is also required from a party who opposes a divorce filing, a Motion for Temporary Support, a Motion for custody, a motion for attorneys’ fees. The RI Family Court’s new DR-6 form must also be updated and completed in full, signed under oath, and filed with the Court by the filing party or the opposing party if either of them has a financial change of circumstances.
To be on the safe side you may want to take the position that I have that the degree of significance of the financial change need not need be sizeable. If you have an addition to or subtraction to your assets, an increase or decrease in your expenses, an increase or decrease in your income, or an increase or decrease in your liabilities, AND that change amounts to even as little as $100, then it is best to be safe and to fill out a new DR-6 Form and update the court on the status of your financial situation.
The purpose of Rhode Island’s new DR-6 Form in the Family Court System provides for substantially more “upfront” disclosure of finances between the parties in a cases where finances are at issue. This financial form provides both for detailed disclosure of finances for the benefit of both parties but also for the benefit of the Family Court judges involved in the case so they will have access to fundamental information regarding the finances of each party without having to compel a partys’ compliance with additional orders under the threat of contempt.
The new DR-6 form is shown below. As you can see it requires extensive voluntary disclosures of your assets, debts, income and liabilities. These disclosures which go well beyond the DR-6 form previously used by the family court.
Is this a good change? The answer is clearly debatable.
Why? Well, it depends upon your perspective.
Let’s assume that Mr. Trump, a very old-fashioned 82 year old Rhode Island gentleman who has amassed significant assets wants to divorce his wife. According to the RI Family Court’s Administrative Orders Mr. Trump must file this new DR-6. To his shock, Mr. Trump is told by his attorney that he is required to disclose every aspect of his gross income, his expenses, his assets, his business interests, his liabilities, his bank accounts, his investments, his rental incomes and essentially every aspect of his financial life.
Mr. Trump doesn’t want to provide the information but his attorney explains to him that is required by the Court to file for divorce. Mr. Trump begins having the information provided to the attorney believing it will only be available to the court.
Prior to signing the DR-6 under oath Mr. Trump is informed by his divorce lawyer that his financial information will not only be available to the Court but also to his wife and to anyone who reviews his divorce file, including the general public. Mr. Trump refuses to sign the DR-6. The attorney informs Mr. Trump that without this form the divorce cannot be filed. Mr. Trump is furious.
Why does personal and private financial information that would not otherwise be known to the public have to be disclosed to the public in a divorce?
Mr. Trump is not happy. He does not understand why he should have to make his private and personal financial information available to the public in order to divorce his wife. The only thing his lawyer can tell Mr. Trump is that it is a required form for filing a divorce and he can either complete the form or dismiss the idea of filing for divorce.
Do you consider your finances and income private?
Would you be upset if you were in Mr. Trump’s shoes?
If Mr. and Mrs. Trump signed a pre-marital agreement and they have both already agreed how they are going to resolve their divorce, should Mr. Trump still be required to make such an extensive public disclosure of his finances?
Now let’s change the situation and look at the requirement from a different perspective.
Mr. Johnson has moderate income and he and his wife have fairly well over their 23 year marriage as a result of Mr. Johnson’s self-employment as a subcontractor. Mr. Johnson is a very shrewd man and he takes care of all the bills and has had complete control of the finances. Mrs. Johnson hasn’t worked in 18 years and she is very scared about how she is going to survive. Mr. Johnson files for divorce.
Can you imagine how Mrs. Johnson and her attorney might feel about the new DR-6 form when Mrs. Johnson knows nothing about the finances at all and Mr. Johnson had to fill that form out at the time of filing? The word “thrilled” might just about summarize it, or in the very least Mrs. Johnson probably feels a little bit relieved when she can see what the financial picture is from Mr. Johnson’s DR-6 form.
As I said, it’s a matter of perspective.
One thing that certainly needs to be considered is today’s technology. Would you have concerns about your financial information being a matter of public record?
Is identity theft a concern that you have? You aren’t the only one.
It’s a concern every person in a divorce should have right now!
However, that’s an article for another day.
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