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Today's Divorce Tip: Act Before You File!

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Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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For Plaintiff's, the Notice of Automatic Orders goes into effect at the moment the Plaintiff signs the Complaint for Divorce under oath.

What does that mean?  It means that if you have filed your Complaint for Divorce and you take any action that is in violation of the provisions of the Notice of Automatic Orders that you may be technically or even willfully in contempt of court.

So what do you do?  If you have to take any actions regarding insurances or any assets, etc... that are in any way addressed or impacted by the Rhode Island Family Court's Notice of Automatic Orders then you must do so before you sign that Complaint for divorce if you are the Plaintiff.

Keep in mind that this does not necessarily mean that you need to initiate a change before the Automatic Orders go into effect but rather that you should make sure that whatever action you take is completed before you sign that Complaint for Divorce as the Plaintiff otherwise you risk a contempt order being issued against you by the court.

Readers, please note that this does not relate to Defendants.  Defendants are bound by the rule that they are bound by the Automatic Orders once they are served with the Complaint for Divorce by the Automatic Orders of the Court.  There is an exception to this rule though. If the court has reason to believe that you had actual notice of the divorce action and that the papers were being served and you knew of the Automatic Orders and you acted contrary to those orders, then the court may still find that you had what is known as "constructive notice or constructive service" of the papers and therefore the Defendant was bound by those Orders at the time he or she had notice according to the Court.

The situation becomes slightly more precarious for the Defendant than it does for the Plaintiff.  Yet there is one thing that both parties need to remember.

The Rhode Island Family court is a a court of equity and no matter what you may have done which may or may not have been in violation of the Automatic Orders, even if you completed the action before the papers were signed, the judge may still have the power to reverse what you have done or make orders that restore the equity of the situation.

This is one small component of any divorce, be it contested or uncontested.  Did you know this?  If not, think about that.  There are hundreds if not thousands of these little tidbits of knowledge that competent family law attorneys know that helps them get their clients through the court system.  Can you really afford not to be without that information and help?