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January 2012

Can I file an Uncontested Divorce in Rhode Island if I don't live there?


I don't live in Rhode Island.  I moved to Kentucky about 45 days ago after I found out my wife cheated on me.  A Kentucky divorce attorney told me I don't qualify to file a divorce in Kentucky yet.  My wife just moved in with her boyfriend in Massachusetts last week.  A Massachusetts lawyer told me I can't file for divorce against her in Massachusetts.  We got married in Cranston, Rhode Island and we lived in Pawtucket, Rhode Island for the whole time we were married before I moved out.

Can I file an uncontested divorce in Rhode Island even though I don't live there right now?


Unfortunately you can't file for divorce in Rhode Island.  To file for divorce in Rhode Island either you or your spouse must be a continuous resident and domiciled inhabitant of the State of Rhode Island for at least the one year immediately prior to filing your complaint for divorce.  

Neither you nor your wife meet this criteria for filing a divorce in Rhode Island so you cannot file either a contested or uncontested divorce with the Rhode Island Family Courts.

All My Best to Those with a Rhode Island Family Court Matter,

I am Christopher A. Pearsall and I am The Rhode Island Divorce Coach.

Call (401) 632-6976 Now for your Affordable Divorce Advice Session, Coaching Session or Evaluation for Representation.

Uncontested RI Divorce Lawyers - Your Own Pro Se Mistakes in Your Divorce!

When you are your own Rhode Island divorce lawyer you represent yourself and you have the opportunity to make your own mistakes.

This is the unfortunate part of representing yourself Pro Se.  So that my message isn't misunderstood, let me be clearer than I have perhaps been in the past.  Rhode Island divorces aren't always simple or easy even if they are uncontested or when you "think" they are uncontested.

Some Rhode Island divorces that are uncontested can be made easier and simpler.  Keep in mind that this is NOT always the case.  Many times it is much more involved than people think.

If you are going to do things yourself and someone has convinced you that it is easy, simple, uncomplicated, etc... to handle your own divorce then let me be clear with the part they have left out.  It is just as easy, simple, and uncomplicated to make a ton of mistakes as well.

What's the big deal right?  I mean, if it's your divorce then if you screw it up then it was your divorce to screw up and you learn by your mistakes, right?  WRONG!  If you screw up in the wrong way, or on the wrong day, or with the wrong judge then you may have blown your one chance to get your divorce done right without costing you and your spouse more aggravation, time in court, time out of work, travel time, travel expense, traffic aggravation, parking expenses, etc. . .  

One thing that divorce litigants need to realize is that it's not just your divorce or your spouse's divorce, it is the court's divorce too.  While you can screw up your own life and your own time, you don't have the right to screw up the court's time or the court's schedule by not knowing what you are doing or by making mistakes.  

Do not believe for one minute that the courtroom is the place where you should expect to learn by your mistakes.  New lawyers may do it, but it's at a heavy cost because it reflects on their reputation and capability.  Plus the lawyers may be sued for learning by their mistakes in court if the mistake is significant enough.

Yes, uncontested divorces may be made easier at times for the parties.  Yes, uncontested rhode island divorces may be made simpler by a good coaching attorney.

Do not believe that there is "nothing to it" as I heard one man say as he sat next to me.  Ten minutes later he had botched up his divorce so badly and was told by the judge not to come back into court until he had a lawyer.

If you undertake doing your own divorce, you have to take responsibility for your own mistakes and the consequences that go with them.

I am an advocate of people representing themselves in simpler uncontested Rhode Island divorces but not without coaching from a competent, experienced, licensed Rhode Island lawyer.  

While the rate of people representing themselves in their own Rhode Island Divorces has risen astronomically with the poor economy I believe that my message has been lost in the wind.  How do I know this?  Well, when I end up spending more time fixing botched up Pro Se divorce cases than I do coaching people on how to do things right, then either my message has been lost or someone out there is telling people that it's just easy to represent yourself in a divorce without any coaching from a lawyer at all.

If you are going to represent yourself, remember that you have to take full responsibility for the consequences of screwing it up too...and frankly some consequences are greater than others.

My Best to All Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Courts,

I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall and I am

The Rhode Island Divorce Coach.


Uncontested Divorce Tip - Communicate with Your Spouse During Your RI Divorce!

Do you want your Rhode Island divorce to go easier?  Would you rather it go as quickly as possible, and be reasonable and amicable?

Let me give you a huge tip that many Rhode Island lawyers would rather you disregard completely.

If you have a Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer and your lawyer tells you something like this,

"Now that I'm your attorney.  Let me do my job.  Everything goes through attorneys.  That's the way divorces work.  Do not talk to your spouse.  If you say anything to your spouse, tell him (or her) to talk to your attorney." 

Here is what I suggest.  GET A NEW LAWYER!

Why do I say this?  Most divorces are resolved without costing you a fortune because you DO talk to your spouse.  The moment you listen to that crap that your lawyer just handed out, is the moment you just doubled or tripled your legal bill and handed over control of your life to your lawyer.  It is also the first moment that you say goodbye to money that you are entitled to from the marital assets because each dollar you pay your lawyer is a dollar that you won't get.

That's it in a nutshell.  If you listen to that "advice" from your lawyer you just shot yourself in the foot in my professional opinion.

There is only one instance when that advice might be even remotely correct and that is when your spouse is threatening or bullying you and you are incapable to dealing with it.  I am not talking about a spouse talking to you about what you would like to do for settlement or how to resolve things and you are simply nervous or uncomfortable around your spouse.  I am talking about directly threatening your well-being or threatening to harm you.

In the very least I hope that many people read and take this divorce tip to heart.  Do yourself a favor... when you hear that advice and you are not being seriously threatened by your spouse, it is a good idea to get another lawyer.  Try looking for one who cares about you enough to truly resolve your divorce in an amicable fashion.

What is an Uncontested Rhode Island Divorce? A Rhode Island Divorce Attorney's Perspective


What is an "uncontested divorce" in the Rhode Island Family Court System?  I keep calling attorneys to ask for the total cost of a basic uncontested divorce in Rhode Island and I keep getting asked by the lawyers I call what do I mean by a basic uncontested divorce.  Shouldn't they know what it is?


Good question.  Here's the problem.  If you are calling for the price for one then shouldn't YOU know what it is you're asking for a price for?  

I'm not being sarcastic, talking down to you, or belittling you in any way.  

The truth is that you have an excellent question.  Here's the predictament most lawyers will have with your question.  If the lawyer doesn't have a set fee for what the lawyer refers to as an uncontested divorce then how can he or she give you a quote?  The answer.  The lawyer can't.

It might surprise you that most lawyers do not have a set flat fee price for an uncontested divorce because your idea of what an uncontested divorce is versus what it may take to accomplish an uncontested divorce from beginning to end.  If you think an uncontested divorce involves one set of things and the lawyer thinks it involves a different set of things then how can the lawyer give you a price for something that is in your mind that he or she doesn't know.

Consider this Example:

John wants to divorce his wife Margaret.  John calls to get a quote from Attorney Snittle.  John tells the attorney that he and Margaret have agreed to everything and will put it in writing.  They both just want it done as quickly as possible and need an attorney to take them through the process. John asks Attorney Snittle for her charge for this basic uncontested divorce.  Let's imagine that Attorney Snittle actually tells him that it should only cost him $1,000.

John comes in with $1,000 and retains Attorney Snittle's services.  Attorney Snittle is clear that she charges $200 per hour against the $1,000 but if it is as he said then the estimate should be close.  

Here's what happens though.  John's wife Margaret evades service of the divorce papers and Attorney Snittle has to spend extra time tracking Margaret down.  She also has to spend more time dealing with the constable to get Margaret served.  Attorney Snittle asks John to have him and his wife put down in writing and signed before a Notary Public the settlement agreement John and Margaret made and had signed. John says there isn't one.  John expected Attorney Snittle to draw it up for both of them and take care of the signing formalities.  Attorney Snittle believed based upon John's representations that John and Margaret had that covered.  Now John asks Attorney Snittle to draw up an agreement for him and his wife.  Attorney Snittle now has to interview John regarding every aspect of their assets, debts, children, etc... in order to prepare the agreement because she has to be able to give John proper legal advice.  Attorney Snittle also needs the information to prepare the divorce agreement.

Eventually the divorce is completed amicably.  However, Attorney Snittle reasonably gave a price of $1,000 but it was based on incomplete information.  John gets billed for $1,625.00 based on the Attorney's hourly rate agreement.  John claims he is being swindled because he was quoted $1,000 for a basic uncontested divorce and now he is being over charged.

Yet Attorney Snittle was substantially misinformed or was not thoroughly informed by John.  John just wanted the fast quote and that's what he got but his case was not a basic uncontested divorce to Attorney Snittle.  Why?  Because in Attorney Snittle's estimation a basic uncontested divorce does not include a spouse evading service of process.  It also doesn't involve the attorney drawing up the agreement between the parties when she is lead to believe that the parties have already completed their divorce settlement agreement in writing, or that they will put their divorce settlement agreement in writing on their own without additional time by the attorney.  Attorney Snittle provided a quote based on incomplete information and Attorney Snittle was required to do more work because of John and his wife, not because Attorney Snittle is dishonest.

So what did John think?  Did he think a basic uncontested Rhode Island divorce includes taking care of service of process no matter how difficult it is or how much time it takes on the attorney's part to get it accomplished?  It sounds like he did.  Yet Attorney Snittle never said anything like that.

What else did John think?  Did he think that the attorney always prepares the divorce settlement agreement in a basic uncontested divorce?  It certainly seems like that, doesn't it!  Attorney Snittle didn't promise that and was told by John that they agreed on everything and they'd even put it in writing.

See the trouble that can occur if the person asking is not on the exact same page as the lawyer.

The fact is that there is no true definition for a basic uncontested Rhode Island divorce because every couple is different, every case is different, every attorney may have different understandings of it, and neither John nor Attorney Snittle can predict what the other spouse is going to do or not do.

I could give you 3 to 5 different definitions that different lawyers have for their understanding what an uncontested divorce consists of in Rhode Island and they would all be different and have all different estimates.

In this case John believes he was cheated and Attorney Snittle probably believes that John is being unrealistic because he knows the extra work that she had to put into his case.  She may have been able to resolve it amicably, but issues that were not within her quote caused more time to be required and she did the work for that time and still got the case resolved amicably.

An uncontested divorce can be one that is understood by everyone as a case being filed by one spouse and not being opposed by the other spouse.  However, the amount of services that it takes to get that unopposed divorce resolved is rarely the same each time.  Unless the Attorney knows the whole story and the prospective client and the attorney are on the same page about what is and what is not included in the entire divorce proceeding or quote given then the quote is worthless.

Therefore, if this is your method of shopping around for a lawyer to handle your uncontested divorce in Rhode Island Family Court, you need to consider quite a bit more factors and reconsider the manner in which you search for the lawyer.

My Best to All of You Going before the Rhode Island Family Court, 

I am Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall, and
I am the original Rhode Island Divorce Coach.

Do yourself a favor?  Give me a quick call and set up an affordable coaching and legal advice session for only $145 for an hour.  Get the information you need as well as answers to your worrisome questions so you can make the important informed decisions you need to make so you can good decisions.

Isn't your life, and your peace of mind in a divorce worth $145 to get the facts and know your options?  If not, why call an attorney at all?

Meetings by appointment only.  Call Now for Your own Peace of Mind - (401) 632-6976.

The Confusing Rhode Island Family Court DR-6 Form - New RI Family Court Form!

Anyone wishing to file for divorce in the State of Rhode Island must fill out a financial form known as the "Statements of Assets and Liabilities" otherwise known as the DR-6 Form.

Quite some time ago I wrote about this form to assist people in understanding it, because it was less than clear what the form was intended for, what it was actually used for, and to try to eliminate to at least a small degree some of the mystery surrounding the confusing Rhode Island DR-6 form.

In October of 2011, Rhode Island's DR-6 Statement of Assets and Liabilities form was completely overhauled and a new DR-6 form is now required.  The previous DR-6 form consisted of the front and back side of a single page.

 The new and improved DR-6 form is now nine (9) pages long and has been created in the form of an Excel spreadsheet which is available for download from the Rhode Island Family Court's website.

The new DR-6 is substantially more extensive and requests more specific information about virtually every form of asset, debt, income, expense and investment.

Whether Rhode Island's new Statement of Assets and Liabilities is actually an improvement is an issue that remains up for debate.  However, in the very least the form requires a substantial amount of disclosure from all plaintiffs and to the extent the DR-6 filing is enforced by the court, a subsequent disclosure to the same extent by a defendant.

As with its predecessor form, there are no specific instructions for the completion of the Rhode Island Family Court's new DR-6 form.  Though the detailed nature of the form might suggest that it is no longer confusing. You might change your mind though once you try to fill one out on your own.

The confusion lies in the fact that it is entirely possible for an item of income to also just as easily fit into a subcategory of asset.  The same concept applies to a debt item which might also fit into a category or subcategory of liabilities.  Common sense would seem to indicate that inclusion of the same item in both the debt section and the liability section would create a double entry and that the form's creators would have no reason to create a form which duplicates information.  

The conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the form's creators only intended you to include any item which might fall under both areas into one of the areas.  

So what is the confusion, right?  Which area should it be included in?  Should you include the item in the first section that seems appropriate and leave it out from the second section that applies?  Or should you do it in the reverse order and wait until you come to see if you come to a second section that might apply and place it there?

One would think that there would be appropriate direction for this question.  I tried to use common sense and my analytical mind to determine the best category and/or section that should be selected when working with various debt items.  I found that even if I wanted to discern the best category and/or section to put an item in, I found that numerous items applied equally well to two categories and/or sections on the DR-6 form.  I found, in the course of analyzing the form with actual information that there were even three semi-common items in many divorce financial structures that might fit equally well into three (3) sections of the DR-6 form.
So I made inquiry to one member of the committee that created the form about this problem. I was told to just put it in one of the spots.  So I inquired further as to whether instructions were going to be created for Rhode Island's new DR-6 Statement of Assets and Liabilities Form. Unfortunately, no instructions are anticipated for the form to assist either attorneys or the general public.

Regrettably, this article may raise more questions than it actually answers.  Yet, if anything, it will confirm for you that you are not the only one with concerns about this form and the confusion it creates for attorneys and the general public as well.

If you look closely at the form, there is one thing I am thankful I can clear up for you.  If the intention of the form is to provide calculations for the parties and the Rhode Island Family Court that are reliable, then you cannot merely put an item in one category or section of the form and leave it at that.  The fact is that the form makes numerous calculations when used in its original Excel format.  

If an item is not included in the category or section that the form creators "intended" on this new DR-6 form, then the resulting calculations performed by the DR-6 spreadsheet will be incorrect.  One number might be overly inflated while another might be understated.
It would only take two or three items placed in an "unintended" category or section to substantially throw off the resulting calculations in the spreadsheet.  Depending upon how the parties and/or the family court judge relies upon or interprets the DR-6 calculations, this confusion created by the new DR-6 form could prevent settlement between the parties or mislead the court unintentionally into believing the finances of one party are different than they actually are.

Rhode Island's new and improved DR-6 Statement of Assets and Liabilities is more detailed and extensive than ever and has positive possibilities toward resolving family law cases, yet without instructions for this new form, the confusion nevertheless remains.