Rhode Island Divorce Laws Feed

Why the paperwork in a Rhode Island divorce or separation proceeding is more than just "filling in a form."

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

You believe your family court proceeding divorcing you from your spouse is straightforward.  You've talked to your spouse and think you have worked out all the major issues.  However, you are a bit apprehensive since you don't know the legal process, so you look into hiring a lawyer.  You meet with a few lawyers and the cheapest one you can find will charge you $2,000 for an uncontested proceeding.

You don't believe it should cost that much money "just to fill out paperwork" when you and your wife are amicable.  So you decide you are going to do it yourself and save the money.  You go to the closest family court in Rhode Island and an assistant court clerk hands you a packet of divorce/separation documents and informs you that you need to return with them completely filled out along with payment of the filing fee.

You get home and look over the documents. You look at the Complaint form.  It provides has a box to check off for the type of proceeding and you must check one.  It gives you two options.

[] - Complaint for Divorce  [] - Complaint for Divorce from Bed and Board

Do you know what the difference is?  Does checking off one box give you different rights than checking off the other box?  Is the result in the legal proceeding different if you check off one box compared to the other box?  If you check the wrong box when you file this document, are you allowed to change to the other legal proceeding if you make a mistake, or do you have to start over and refile all the papers and pay a new filing fee, etc.?

This is one small example why the paperwork is not "just filling out forms."  Ultimately, if it is just a matter of filling out forms then anyone could do it.  You wouldn't need to be a lawyer.  You wouldn't need a law degree.  You wouldn't need to know the law. It would simply be common sense or you would simply know the answer or the answer wouldn't have any detrimental consequences to you.

Looking further just at the Complaint for you see two boxes one labeled "Plaintiff" and the other "Defendant."  You know that the Plaintiff is the party who files the documents and that you will be doing the filing so you know that your name should be placed in the Plaintiff box and your spouse's name will be placed in the Defendant's box.   Then you question yourself.  Does it make a difference who is the Plaintiff in the case?  Does it make the case harder or easier if one spouse files as opposed to another?  You don't know so you continue with the documents.

It asks you to check a box for the proper county family court that the divorce matter is to be heard in.  You live in Kent County and your spouse lives in Providence County.  Which family court do you file in?  Kent County Family Court or Providence/Bristol County Family Court?  Must you file in one Kent County or Providence/Bristol County?  Can you file in either county? Does it make a difference where you file?  If you file in the wrong county do you have to restart the process and re-file the proceeding in the correct family court and pay a new filing fee?  You select your county and move to the first numbered paragraph in the complaint.

In Paragraph Number 1 of the Complaint it states,

"1.  The Plaintiff, _______________________________, of __________________________ (city or town), in the County of __________________________, states that the Plaintiff has been a domiciled inhabitant of Rhode Island and has resided therein for more than one (1) year next before filing this Complaint and is now a domiciled inhabitant of Rhode Island."

It seems fairly straight-forward to put in your name as the Plaintiff and then the name of the city and then the county you live in. However, what if you haven't been a continuous resident in the State of Rhode Island for at least 1 year before filing of this complaint?  Can you still file for divorce?  What if you haven't been a resident in your current county within the state?  Can you still file for divorce in that county?

In Paragraph Number 2 of the Complaint it states,

"2. Upon information and belief, the Defendant resides in the city or town of __________________________ in the State of __________________________ and has resided in that state for _____ years next before filing this Complaint."

Once again it seems straight-forward enough.  You fill in the town and state where your spouse lives and state how many years your spouse has lived in that state before filing this complaint.  Does it matter how long your wife lived in Rhode Island before you filed the complaint?  

Let's assume that you know that because things are amicable between you and your spouse that the grounds for the proceeding are irreconcilable differences that have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.  Let's also assume that you get to the end of the Complaint document and it says that you are asking for a judgment of divorce AND ....

What do you ask for?  Do you know what things you can ask for?  Do you know if there are any things that you must ask for otherwise they might be permanently waived?  If you forget to ask for something do you lose your right to ask for that particular thing in the future? Do you ask for specifics such as the car you drive?  Or do you just ask the court to generally split everything 50/50 if that is what you and your spouse have talked about?  Do you know if Rhode Island is a 50/50 division state or what the legal standard is for property division in Rhode Island?  Does anything happen if you ask for something you aren't legally entitled to even if your spouse has said he or she will agree to it?  How do you word what you will ask for in the divorce so that nothing is missed?

The Complaint is only one of numerous documents that must be filed throughout a divorce case.  The purpose of this article is merely to demonstrate why lawyers don't "just fill in forms".  The forms provided by the court are as close as you can get to a one size fits all document.  Regrettably, it does not fit all cases and, in fact may not fit most cases.  As lawyers we know that we have to be fluid with the form and modify it where the factual circumstances do not fit within the form.

It is certainly true that we as attorneys prepare legal documents and fill in forms, but it is not merely blindly filling in forms because of any general information we have.  As divorce and family law attorneys we do much more than that.  

As you will note from the questions above, we know the difference between a Complaint for Divorce and a Complaint for a Divorce from Bed and Board and that the results are legally different and that each is normally pursued for very different reasons.  We also know that it sometimes makes a significant difference as to which party is the filing party (the "Plaintiff") based on factors such as (1) who wants the divorce and who does not, (2) who is local and who is not, (3) which county each party resides in if both the parties reside in Rhode Island, (4) which spouse has more time to give to the divorce to attend to the filing issues, (5) whether the other spouse plans to get a lawyer or not, and on occasion (6) who the judge is that might hear the case.

As lawyers, when we meet with client's and make sure the complaint complies with the law, we know when and where to modify it and which court has both the proper jurisdiction and proper venue to hear the case so that a case is not filed in the wrong jurisdiction or county.  Mistakes such as these can cause you issues or concerns or cost additional monies and time for re-filing.

When we approach the complaints we have created or prepare to fill-in and/or modify the documents provided by the court we know that the first two paragraphs are not merely filling in the blanks.  Those paragraphs tell the court about the parties and whether or not the court has jurisdiction over them so the case can be properly heard.  Simply filling in the first two paragraphs does not insure jurisdiction unless one of the spouses meets Rhode Island's statutory requirements for residency.   Therefore, what appear to be simple questions about where the spouses live are actually crucial.  Your answers may or or may not establish jurisdiction to invoke the family court's power to grant you a divorce.  Without the knowledge of whether or not what you are filling in for your residency is both accurate and triggers the court's jurisdiction could cause you a lot of wasted time if the court does not have the power to grant your type of divorce.

In the case of grounds for divorce, we have assumed it's amicable and that you would know that the preferred grounds in such cases is "irreconcilable differences that have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage."   This is referred to as a "no fault" grounds for divorce.   However, experienced divorce lawyers know that it is possible to plead more than one grounds in order to protect your client, including both a fault and non-fault (i.e. infidelity) grounds.  Family court lawyers who practice divorce know that there are actually eight (8) fault grounds for divorce and two non-fault grounds for divorce including living separate and apart for a space of time in excess of three (3) years.

Each aspect of the paperwork that is completed by attorneys in any divorce proceeding is done with the knowledge of the law and the court system.  Without this legal knowledge saying a lawyer just "fills in some forms" ignores the fact that each paragraph has legal significance and that if you fill it in incorrectly or fail to modify the court's "blanket form" in a way that complies with the law but still allows your divorce to be processed may cost you time, money or worse yet your legal rights. 

Here is a common example of a person who does not understand their case or what an attorney does.

Last week I received a call from an individual claiming she had an easy divorce .  She said it was uncontested and all worked out with her spouse.  I gave her a quote for an uncontested divorce as long as it remained uncontested and based on her representation had she it all worked out with her spouse.  She took issue with the quote I gave her claiming that it was easy to get married and since they had agreed on everything she didn't think it should cost more than $1,000 "just to fill in a few forms." 

I chose to ask a few questions and this is what I learned.

1.  The spouses hadn't spoken in almost a year and had no written agreement regarding how they wanted to divide their assets. 

2.  She lived in Rhode Island.  Her spouse lived in another country.  It was clear that research would need to be done to see if lawful service in the foreign country could be made on the spouse in accordance with the Hague Convention to ensure that the Rhode Island family court could obtain jurisdiction with allowable service in the foreign country.

3.  The woman's spouse had no intention of coming back to Rhode Island and did not want to  respond to the divorce proceeding.

4.  The foreign spouse had an affair but the local spouse didn't want to bring it up unless the agreement (which didn't seem to exist) fell through. 

5.  Both spouse's expected to simply sign a settlement document ad have the court sign off on it without testimony.  She was not aware the court has the power to approve or deny settlement agreements but only after testimony by the parties.

6.  The foreign spouse did not speak english and would require an interpreter.

7.  Since they expected a signed agreement the court would have to give permission for the foreign spouse to testify telephonically.

8.  It was not a short marriage and involved five (5) pieces of real estate in two (2) different countries.  There were also retirement accounts, bank accounts and personal property all of which were held in two (2) difference countries and were at least partially marital assets.  

In short, the court's form didn't apply and would have to be modified.  However modification could not occur until the issue of service of process had been researched.  Once service was researched, jurisdiction had to be confirmed for the proper location based upon whether legal service was allowed and in what form based on the Hague Convention and the laws of the foreign country.  Assuming Rhode Island had jurisdiction and service could effectively be performed, a concrete settlement agreement would have to be created for the parties not only because it involved real estate and assets in different countries but because the matter was likely to go before a judge that would not approve a verbal agreement between a bilingual individual and foreign spouse who required a translator. 

Based on what I had learned, the agreement would have to be drafted in both english and spanish and it would have to be approved in both forms by the parties in writing and under oath.  If that all went well, approval would have to be obtained from the judge hearing the matter for the foreign spouse to be allowed to testify by telephone and a court translator would have to be arranged for that telephonic hearing.  Since the foreign spouse did not speak english it was also likely that this particular judge might require all court documents to be drafted in spanish as well as english to insure the foreign spouse received proper notice of every aspect of the proceeding.  This was especially true because the foreign spouse presumably did not want to retain an attorney for the matter.

Even when these things were explained to the caller, the caller insisted I was attempting to make this more difficult than it needed to be in order to make money and claimed it was just a matter of filling out a few forms and would do it herself.

Regrettably, people often think lawyers complicate things unnecessarily. However, the fact is that the law is complicated and it is always changing. In the end, I was disappointed that the woman didn't realize the complexity of the matter she was dealing with.  I was, however, glad that I didn't have to explain to her that she did not have a simple flat fee uncontested divorce and that I would not undertake representation for the flat fee I had quoted her based on the her initial representations.

In closing, I have learned from numerous Pro Se individuals who handled their own divorces that one wrong word can cost you thousands of dollars in time and legal fees repair the damage caused by an incorrectly written document.  In some instances it has been difficult to inform a Pro Se individual that he or she filled in a divorce document incorrectly and as a result they lost something vital that cannot be undone.

It is always best to sit down for an advice session with a competent and experienced family law attorney in the state in which you have your issue before taking any kind of action.

For people within the State of Rhode Island, feel free to call me to set up your comprehensive low-cost flat fee legal advice session. Know what your options are before you act.

Call today and be on your way to getting the answer you need!  (401) 632-6976


Can a person remarry in Rhode Island without getting an official divorce decree, on the pretext of having an official foreign divorce issued?

Rhode Island Marriage DivorceBy:  Christopher A. Pearsall, RI Divorce and Family Law Attorney

QUESTION: Can a person remarry in Rhode Island without getting an official divorce decree, on the pretext of having an official foreign divorce issued?

ANSWER:  Dear Writer, I’m not sure what you mean by “on the pretext of having an official foreign divorce issued.”

A “pretext” is when you give one reason for doing something when you actually have another reason for doing it.  For example, “The police obtained a warrant to search Mr. Jones’ house from the judge on the pretext that stolen merchandise would be found there when they actually wanted the search warrant to search the house for drugs.”

If you meant your question to state, can you remarry legally in Rhode Island when you are still married in another country simply by representing that you have an official foreign divorce decree issued by another country, then I believe the answer is “No.”

If you are married to one person, you must first obtain a divorce before you can marry another person in Rhode Island.  If there is any exception to this rule at all I most certainly would want someone to enlighten me as to how this is possible based on Rhode Island law.

Under Rhode Island law, as of the date of this response the act of bigamy which is getting married to another spouse when you are already married is a crime.

Note to the Writer of this Question:  For purposes of accuracy you may need to revise your question to make sure you phrased it correctly or you may wish to give a hypothetical example for purposes of clarity.

 


In A Divorce it's Important to be Optimistic but also Realistic in the Division of Marital Assets.

Screen Shot 2016-10-23 at 5.11.26 PMBy:  Christopher A. Pearsall, RI Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Divorces come in all shapes and sizes.  Some spouses are still talking to each other while others are at each others throats.  In some marriage relationships one party made the money while the other party took care of the household and may have been the primary caretaker of the children.  Still others find both spouses working with one being a spender and another person being a saver.  The differences between marriage relationships are just as diverse as the divorces that arise out of those relationships.

Yet, even in divorce it is often important to be practical, realistic and optimistic.

For instance, in Rhode Island you need to understand that there are realistic standards that govern many divorce situations such as the division of assets.  Though Rhode Island is an equitable division state (not to be confused with an "equal" division state), the law is fairly practical when it comes to many situations. 

One such instance is when two people have separate bank accounts with their own separate funds in them.  Then, those two people get married.  Upon getting married, many spouses often put their monies into a joint account that has both of the parties' names on them.  Those funds then become "marital funds" in the event of a divorce and they are divisible by the court in their entirety regardless of the length of the marriage, unless the judge does not find the division after a trial to be equitable. 

For this example we will use funds in bank accounts.  Bill has $23,000 in his own account.  Tina has $5,000 in her own separate account as well.  They get married.  Bill puts Tina's name on his account.  Tina moves her $5,000 into what is now their joint account and she closes her separate account.  Unfortunately Bill and Tina may have jumped the gun and married too soon and they quickly find that they are incompatible and file for divorce within two (2) years.

Bill files for divorce.  The law is practical and realistic when it comes to the bank account which has $38,000 at the time of the filing.  It is in a joint account and therefore it is marital money to be divided between the parties. 

The law in Rhode Island provides that when you enter into a joint account with someone, unless it can be shown that the name of one of the spouses was placed on the account purely as a matter of convenience that in fact, by having a joint account each person is gifting half of the money they contributed to the account to the other spouse.  Thus, the entire account actually belongs to Bill AND it belongs to Tina.

In a divorce situation, if Bill and Tina are reasonable with one another and are still talking with one another then it would be an optimistic mindset and position to take that Bill should get back the $23,000 he had before this short marriage and Tina should get back her $5,000 and the parties should split the remainder equally.

However, if Bill and Tina are not getting along and either Tina or Bill intend to be vindictive that they are not bound by that optimistic perspective.  Either one of them can endeavor to enforce the practical laws of Rhode Island and demand that the entire account of marital monies be divided equitably.  Many times, equitably will turn out to be an equal division of monies absent some mitigating factor such as an infidelity that caused the breakdown of the marriage or dissipated the marital assets.

It is important, however, that even though it is good to be optimistic in a divorce situation, it is just as important to be realistic.  If you have placed monies in a joint account, then you have created marital funds and you have no right or entitlement to get the monies you had before you married your spouse back.  They are no longer premarital once they enter a joint account.  Acceptance of the fact that this may be a realistic decision that a judge might easily come to because of Rhode Island's laws regarding divorce, marital assets and joint bank accounts will help you prepare for an outcome you may not be happy with but which you may have no choice about.

In your divorce, be practical and realize that laws govern what you have done with your assets, by getting married, and during your marriage.  You need to be realistic and accept that laws will govern many situations in your divorce that you may not agree with and may be out of your control.  No doubt if you were Bill and you expected to get your $23,000 back, you might be extremely unhappy if the judge were unconcerned about the short length of the marriage and simply applied the principle of a joint bank account to your case giving Tina half of everything in the account. 

What may not seem fair to you in your divorce may be a situation that has often been spelled out by years of law not just regarding divorce but regarding banking or property law as well.  The judge is bound by the law to be applied and unfortunately what may seem an unfair result to you or I in any particular divorce case often has a broader rule of law behind it that is being applied.

Marriage is an important decision as are what we do with our assets and debts during the marriage.  It is a contract with repercussions that we often do not appreciate until we are in a divorce and it is too late.  If you are contemplating marriage, it is not a bad thing to be aware of what may happen in the event of a divorce and how the law may treat what you do.  

Be optimistic but practical and realistic!  In the end, for all of us ignorance of the law is never an excuse... even in a divorce.


Rhode Island's Notice of Automatic Orders in Divorces and Family Law Cases... E-Filing causes timing issue.

Screen Shot 2016-10-08 at 6.15.03 PMBy:  Christopher A. Pearsall, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer

When you file for divorce in Rhode Island, the Notice of Automatic Orders becomes effective the moment the plaintiff (i.e. the filing party) signs the complaint for divorce.  In most circumstances, this Order's provisions becomes effective for the defendant (i.e. the party being served with divorce papers) once he or she is served with the divorce documents.

So what is the Notice of Automatic Orders?  It is a document printed signed by the Chief Judge of the family court that is included in your Rhode Island divorce documents. More significantly, it is a Rhode Island law.

If you would like to see what it looks like as of the writing of this article you can download it here -> RI_Notice_of_Automatic_Orders

As of the writing of this posting, it is Rhode Island General Laws §15-5-14.1.   The plaintiff is must be aware of and abide by the provisions of the Notice of Automatic Orders at the time he or she signs the Complaint for Divorce.  The defendant is expected to be aware of (and must abide by) the provisions of the Notice of Automatic Orders at the time he or she is served with the document along with the complaint for divorce and the other service documents.

It is extremely important to note that this Notice of Automatic Orders used to be a document that was prepared and included in the filing party's divorce packet.  When it was done in this way it was easy for a plaintiff to be aware of the document.  The plaintiff either had to put it in the packet himself or herself or if the plaintiff hired a lawyer then the lawyer would go over the document with the person at the time the divorce complaint was signed. 

Today documents are e-filed by lawyers and the court creates both the Summons and Notice of Automatic Orders.  If you or your lawyer don't keep this in mind, this new timing issue could cause a problem.

An example illustrates this best.

Daniel is representing himself (i.e. "PRO SE") in his own divorce.  He prepares all of the documents himself including the Complaint for Divorce which he signs before a notary public at a local bank.  He files his divorce complaint and the other supporting documents that constitute his divorce packet with the court.  Two days later Daniel goes to the bank and empties out his joint bank account that he holds with his spouse.  At this point Daniel doesn't have the service packet documents which include the Notice of Automatic Orders that the court now prepares for you.

Daniel calls the court a day later and finds that the service packet of documents to be served on his spouse is ready. Daniel picks it up and has it served on his spouse by a local constable.

Daniel's spouse hires a lawyer and immediately re receives a Motion to Adjudge him in Willful Contempt of the Notice of Automatic Orders because Daniel violated the very first provision which prohibits moving or removing assets and went into effect the moment he signed his divorce complaint before a notary.

Daniel thinks it's easy.  He goes to court and tells the judge that he didn't know about the provision in the Notice of Automatic Orders so how could he abide by them.  He argues that they weren't even prepared by the court until after he had already removed the monies.

The judge is not impressed.  The judge orders Daniel to give his spouse 60% of the money he took out and to pay his spouse's lawyer fees and costs of $750 for having to file the motion and appear at court to argue it and pay his spouse for whatever time may have been lost from work.

Daniel is furious.  He continues to argue that he doesn't think it's fair that he is held to the requirements of a document that he couldn't have known about because it wasn't created yet by the court at the time when he acted.

The judge's response was simple,

"Perhaps you should have hired a lawyer who knows our divorce laws.  The Rhode Island Automatic Orders are in our state's domestic relations laws, our RI Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, our E-filing Guidelines and the Family Court's Administrative Orders.  Ignorance of our laws is never a defense nor an excuse.  So do not blame the court.  If you are looking for someone to blame here sir, then I suggest you look in a mirror."

Being a good divorce and family law in lawyer in Rhode Island has become more challenging in today's age of technology and everchanging rules.  The RI Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure have been rewritten and revised several times over.  Formal procedures sometimes differ from what the rules indicate and even as an experienced Rhode Island family lawyer it often becomes a challenge.

When you hire a lawyer, make sure that you are shown the Notice of Automatic Orders and that you read them thoroughly before you sign your complaint for divorce under oath.  Don't let any lawyer let you skip it.  A good lawyer will take the time to go over the law that you are held to.  If a lawyer wants you to skip the Notice of Automatic Orders or just tells you to trust him or her and sign on the dotted line, rethink the lawyer you chose. Every good lawyer should take the time to keep you informed for your protection as a client.


Unique Rhode Island Divorce Questions: Avvo Answers Clarified

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By:  Christopher Pearsall, Esquire
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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A person wanted some help and posted to the Avvo website for attorneys to provide assistance.

Three Rhode Island attorneys answered this divorce scenario.  My answer and my comments on their answers are included to show the diversity between attorneys.

Each attorney's disclaimer has been removed since it's irrelevant to the answer and the attorneys are not disclosed here.

QUESTION:  I still use the same address.  Is it more complicated to use this as my legal address or changing to my mother's Massachusetts address?

DETAILS:  We have not been together for many years but have not been able to afford divorce. I can not afford to have my own place and pay the house bills so I stay here and there which sometimes includes the house my family lives in. We would like to have the fast track divorce which looks like it will cost about $1,000.00 and can be done within 21 days of filing. It is uncontested the only deal is we need it documented that when the house sells we split the money if something happened to both of us the house would go to our sons (18 & 20). Thank you for this service.

 

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall's Answer:

To get divorced in Rhode Island either you OR your spouse MUST be "a continuous resident AND domiciled inhabitant of the State of Rhode Island for the one year immediately before the date you file for divorce in Rhode Island.  It is not about "addresses."  You can get a post office box as an address halfway across the country with a simple telephone call but that is not a place where you have been a "continuous resident" AND "domiciled inhabitant." 

Generally speaking to be a "continuous resident" you must continuously reside (i.e. live) in the State of Rhode Island for the one year period immediately before you file for divorce in this state.  Therefore, if during the one year immediately before you file for divorce you live in Pawtucket, RI for 7 months with your spouse and then rent a place in Newport, RI for two months and then live with a friend of yours for the last three months in Warwick, RI immediately before you file for divorce in Rhode Island, then you would have been a "continuous resident" of Rhode Island for the full 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.  In that case you would have met the first prong of the test.

However, before you can file for divorce in Rhode Island you MUST also meet the second qualification, namely you must be a "domiciled inhabitant" of the State of Rhode Island during that time.  The key here is that you may only have one domicile at any give time.  A "domicile" may be generally thought of as a place that you intend to live in for a particular period of time and you intend to come back to it.  For instance, if you have a house that you have lived with in the year before you file for divorce in the State of Rhode Island and you have lived there with your spouse but things start getting tense with your spouse and you come back to the house occasionally but you rent an apartment in Attleboro, MA to stay in for 4 days out of the week to avoid the tension with your spouse, then there will be an issue as to whether you have been a domiciled inhabitant in the State of Rhode Island.  The idea is that you cannot at any given time have two domiciles.  You may only have one domicile . . . namely where you "really" or "primarily" live and do not intend to leave from at that particular time. 

So, you must be both a continuous resident and have your single domicile be within the State of Rhode Island during that year before you file for divorce. 

Using an address to prove residence with the court to file for divorce simply because it suits your purpose of filing because you get mail there or because that's where your license is still listed is a bad idea. 

First, this is important because when you confirm your address with the court you must do so under oath before a Notary Public.  Therefore, if you lie then you have committed perjury before the court which is a crime.

Second, this is important because even if your divorce is granted.  If it is discovered that you or your spouse did not meet Rhode Island's residency requirement to obtain your divorce, then the divorce may be found to be void.  If that is the case then you are still married.  Imagine if you got remarried and had children!!!  Then all of a sudden your wife is no longer your wife and your children would be deemed illegitimate.  On top of this, if authorities really wanted to press it, you would be guilty of the crime of bigamy.

Ultimately, you don't have a choice to play games with addresses here.  You either meet both criteria and you can file for divorce in Rhode Island, or you don't meet the criteria and you can't file or you have to wait until you do meet the criteria.

It is worth addressing the details that you gave following your question. 

There is one way your divorce will take less time.  That "one way" is if you and your spouse have been separated for a period in excess of three (3) years.

There is an uncontested divorce but there is nothing called a "fast track" divorce.  Also, there is no divorce that you can get in 21 days.

If you have not been separated for more than 3 years, then even if things work like clockwork with the court the fastest you can possibly get your divorce completed is 5 1/2 months if it is uncontested. 

If you have been separated for more than 3 years, then if things work like clockwork with the court the fastest can can usually get your divorce completed is 3 1/2 months if it remains uncontested.

You mention that you have a house that is to be sold and that you need certain provisions.  Whenever there is a house involved you should make sure you have a Property Settlement Agreement that is written and contains all the terms regarding the house and is signed by both you and your spouse under oath before a notary public.  It is never a good idea to have a house involved and NOT to have a written Property Settlement Agreement to present to the court for approval.  If you do not have such a written agreement it is possible that you could have a problem with what is known as the "Statute of Frauds" which essentially requires transactions regarding real estate to be in a signed writing.  A thorough description of the Statute of Frauds is unfortunately too detailed for answering a single question.

You also bring up what you want to happen if you and/or your spouse die.  I'm certain it sounds simple to you to so this, but you then run into not only provisions in your Property Settlement Agreement being added but also taking into consideration whether either of you has a Last Will and Testament and, if not, what the laws are relating to intestacy in the State of Rhode Island (assuming for your question that the property you are talking about is within the State of Rhode Island).

Please be aware that this answer is provided as a courtesy based only on the facts and/or circumstances given and any assumptions I have had to make to try to assist you based on the way you worded your question and the details. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  This is not legal advice.  Also, this is NOT a substitute for sitting down with an experienced Rhode Island divorce and family law attorney and providing all the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and affording the attorney the opportunity to ask questions which could substantially change any information you may be given.  Never act on any information you find on the internet. The only way to be assured that you receive competent, accurate and comprehensive advice regarding your legal situation is by meeting with a qualified legal practitioner who has the opportunity to fully evaluate your case and ask questions relating to your situation.  The information on this page does not constitute specific legal advice to any person, nor does it create an attorney/client relationship with this attorney.

AVVO.COM OTHER ATTORNEY ANSWERS

Below are the actual answers provided by the attorneys on Avvo.com.   Avvo.com only allowed 3 attorneys to answer the question.  Above is the answer that I wanted to provide but was unable to due to the limited number of attorneys they allow to respond.

1)  Do you notice the difference between my answer and their answers?

2)  Do you notice any mistakes they made when informing the person asking the question?

3)  Do you notice any misunderstandings the person had that they did not take the time do clear up?

 

Answer by Rhode Island Attorney No. 1:

I find this question a bit unclear. You must live in RI for one year if you want to get divorced here. If you want to be legal separated here you must only live in RI for one day. Residency is, in part, a matter of intent.

 

Answer by Rhode Island Attorney No. 2:

Do not lie to the court about which state you live in.

Is the house mortgage on both your names? If so, keep in mind that if the bank can report late and missed payments on both of your credit reports.

 

Answer by Rhode Island Attorney No. 3:
 
This question will best be answered by the attorney you are paying to represent you in your "fast track" or nominal divorce on the grounds of living separate and apart for a period exceeding three (3) years. They might also explain that as long as one of the parties has lived in Rhode Island for one year or more before the filing, you should be able to proceed.
 
 
Before you make a decision about any lawyer you may consider hiring... you need INFORMATION.  Without good solid information and legal advice, how can you even know whether you should consider hiring a lawyer or how to tell whether the lawyer you are considering knows what they are doing? 
 
The answer.... you can't.
 
All Rhode Island Divorce lawyers are not the same. 
 
I'm Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall.  CAP isn't simply my initials.  You see, I've been making a difference by Caring About People like you for over 16 years practicing exclusively Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law.
 
For solid and comprehensive legal advice that you can rely upon.  Call me to set up a lower-cost advice session.  Give me a call at 401-632-6976 . . . you'll be glad you did!