Rhode Island Bar Association Web Site on Divorce and Family Law
November 21, 2009
HOW DIVORCE LAW AFFECTS YOU
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE?
A divorce in Rhode Island, in the majority of cases, is granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage. There are various other grounds for divorces such as adultery or extreme cruelty which can be discussed with your attorney.
WHAT IS THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT FOR OBTAINING A DIVORCE IN THE RHODE ISLAND FAMILY COURT?
Divorce proceedings cannot be initiated unless you or your spouse have resided in Rhode Island for a period of one year.
WHAT DO I NEED FOR THE FIRST VISIT TO MY LAWYER'S OFFICE?
To expedite your case, you should take your marriage certificate, copies of your most recent tax return, a picture of your spouse, a list of your family obligations and a list of questions you have for your lawyer. In addition, you should know the address, both residence and work of your spouse, together with all family members' place and date of birth.
WHAT KIND OF ISSUES WILL I DISCUSS WITH MY ATTORNEY DURING THE FIRST VISIT?
The separation of a married couple is one of the most traumatic occurrences in one's life. An attorney will address both family and emotional issues, including consideration of marriage counseling or other steps to help save the marriage; assisting you as a parent in meeting the needs of your children; and handling financial matters such as real estate and personal property. You should also be sure to discuss, and fully understand, the attorney's fee arrangement at the first meeting.
WHAT IS A RESTRAINING ORDER AND WHEN MIGHT I NEED ONE?
Restraining orders are usually designed to prevent abuse of a spouse or to prevent removal of marital assets. Restraining orders may be applied for when necessary in cases of physical abuse, transfer of assets, etc. You can apply for a restraining order directly to Family Court without the help of a lawyer.
WHAT ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT?
The Family Court of Rhode Island has adopted a child support formula and guideline which is based on the incomes of both parents. Your attorney will be able to estimate the amount of support which might be ordered by the Court.
HOW ARE MARITAL ASSETS DIVIDED?
Marriage is a partnership so an important issue in divorce is division of marital assets. Most cases are divided equally between spouses, but depending upon the specific facts of the case, there may be a different distribution of marital assets.
HOW IS ALIMONY GRANTED?
There are basically two types of alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is designed for short, definite periods of time, usually to help a spouse get back into the job market. In certain cases, because of age or disability, a court has the right to award alimony indefinitely.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT CUSTODY AND VISITATION?
The well-being of the child is a primary consideration in awarding custody. Your attorney will discuss with you the potential consequences of a contested child custody matter. If at all possible, visitation should continue between the parties even if they are separated, pending the hearing in the Family Court. The Family Court can set specific times that the non-custodial parent will have visitation. A custodial parent's failure to comply with a visitation schedule may result in a change in custody.
CAN DECISIONS MADE ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT, CUSTODY AND VISITATION BE CHANGED?
Even after your divorce has been finalized, the Family Court has the authority to change existing child support, visitation and custody arrangements.
WHEN DOES MY DIVORCE BECOME FINAL?
After filing a divorce complaint and the serving of a summons, the matter may be scheduled for hearing as an uncontested divorce after sixty (60) days. The divorce is not final until a final judgment has been signed by a Family Court Judge. It will not be signed until three months (3) and one day (1) have passed following your divorce hearing. Contested divorces take substantially longer to be heard and decided depending upon the matters to be resolved.
The foregoing section is a brief question and answer section about Rhode Island divorce and domestic relations designed to help consumers in this area of law by the Rhode Island Bar Association.
Naturally it is not intended to be a comprehensive Rhode Island divorce guide for those who are looking for answers to their particular divorce or domestic relations case or issues. Rather, it is merely intended to be a helpful public service by providing general background in this area.
In fact, the Rhode Island Bar Association makes it a point to note that this information is not a substitute for legal advice and representation by a licensed attorney of the Rhode Island Bar.
In the interests of helping even people who come before the Rhode Island Family Court I will provide a series of short articles that address the questions presented by the Rhode Island Bar Association in slightly more detail.
However, in the same manner noted by the Rhode Island Bar Association, readers should note that EVERY case is different in one way or another and even a small difference from one case to another can (and often does) make a huge difference in the advice you receive from a licensed and qualified divorce and family law attorney.
All of the articles on RhodeIslandDivorceTips.com and associated websites are informational only. They do not constitute legal advice, nor are they a substitute for legal advice rendered by an attorney licensed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court after a full and comprehensive interview with you about your case, including all relevant facts and surrounding circumstances and with consideration of the specific Rhode Island Law that applies or may apply to your particular divorce or family law circumstances.
See the first of these articles to be published soon.
Until then, my very best to all those people addressing a Rhode Island Divorce or family law conflict before the Rhode Island Family Courts.
Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
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