Rhode Island Divorce Laws Feed

Request for Relief Issues in a RI Divorce Complaint Matter!

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Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. The Rhode Island Divorce Coachâ„ 

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In a Rhode Island divorce proceeding the filing spouse is often concerned about the relief that is requested in the divorce complaint itself. 

This is particularly true if the spouse filing for divorce in Rhode Island wants to keep things amicable and is concerned about their husband or wife becoming upset or even fanatical when they receive a divorce complaint that requests something that the other spouse believes is outrageous or unreasonable under the circumstances.

In a divorce complaint many attorneys will prepare a complaint for divorce that requests virtually every form of relief that the filing party might want from the court.  Thus, an attorney may prepare a divorce complaint for filing in the Providence County Family Court that asks for alimony, placement of the minor children, child support and resumption of maiden name.  This may be true even if the attorney has been told by the client that he or she does not want alimony or to resume her maiden name.  

These provisions are often included by the attorney as a precautionary measure to ensure that the client does not waive that relief if something changes and he or she changes their mind after the complaint for divorce is filed.  In truth, it is a good practice when dealing with a client who is undecided or who seems to hesitate about any particular form of relief.

I personally don't disagree with the idea of including every possible form of relief in the request for relief regarding a client so as to make certain that the client has not waived any relief he or she may want after the complaint has been filed.  However, it's best to strike a balance here and discuss the matter with the client.  If the client expressed identifiable uncertainty to the attorney about the specific type of relief requested, it is better as a practitioner to request it in the complaint and ask the client for permission to include the provisions he or she expressly stated were not desired.  If the client is opposed to requesting, for example  "alimony" in their divorce complaint because he or she is afraid that the other spouse will take action to retaliate, then it is a better practice to listen to the client and exclude that provision it the divorce lawyer determines that it would be a marginal alimony case and simply make sure that you include for the client a sentence in the relief requested area of the divorce complaint that you also request "and any and all relief that this court deems fair and just."

You as the client should be aware that in practice things may be a bit different than a strict application of the law.  When the little clause just mentioned above is included in the complaint, then Rhode Island family court judges will generally allow an amendment of the complaint to include the requested relief later in the proceeding if there is a justifiable basis for doing so.

Ultimately, you are the client and you are in charge. If you don't want particular language in your Rhode Island divorce complaint then it is up to you to tell your Rhode Island divorce attorney that you want the language removed.  You may do this even if your attorney advises you that the language should remain for your protection.  This does not mean that your attorney must agree with you, nor does it mean that your attorney must continue to represent you if he or she thinks you are making a grave mistake. 

On the rare occasion an attorney may even refuse to proceed as your counsel if you want to exclude certain language that your divorce lawyer finds is crucial to your case.  Though this may be merely a precaution against any potential malpractice claim against the attorney later, it should be taken as a strong indication that if your attorney is willing to go this far to ensure that the language is included, that you, as the client, should probably defer to your attorney's advice.

In the end, a good attorney will advise you of the various considerations involved but ultimately defer to your wishes on the vast majority of issues even if he or she finds them to be contrary to your best interests.

It is good for the lawyer and client to reach an understanding on all family law issues in order to strike a balance between your personal and non-legal concerns as the client and the advice of an experienced and licensed legal practitioner. 

When in doubt, it is always best for you as the client to make the extra effort necessary to retain a lawyer with a dedicated family law practice who practices regularly (weekly if possible) before the Rhode Island Family Courts.

You are the client.  It's your life.  A good divorce lawyer who cares about your case will discuss all related matters with you and work with you on them to do what is best for you regarding your legal and non-legal concerns.  Once again, it is your life.  Don't settle for anything less than what you want and what you determine is in your best interests.

Rhode Island Divorce - When are the Court's Automatic Orders Binding!

Once you sign your Rhode Island Divorce Complaint . . . you are bound!  What do I mean, right?

Under the Rhode Island General Laws, the Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Family Court, Jeremiah S. Jeremiah, has set in place Automatic Orders of the family court that apply to all divorce cases.  These Orders carry the full weight and authority of the law and the Rhode Island Family Court just as if they were generated as the result of a hearing before the court. 

The purpose of these Automatic Orders is to preserve the "status quo" between the parties until the Rhode Island Family Court Judge assigned to the matter orders otherwise.  This essentially prevents the parties from "tampering" with finances, insurances, etc. . . which may place the other spouse at a disadvantage if things do not remain as the parties have historically maintained them.

For instance, the Automatic Orders would prohibit a spouse from removing the other spouse from his or her health insurance coverage from the moment the Automatic Orders are in effect for him or her.

The question then that is most crucial when considering the Automatic Orders of the Court is this . . "When do these Automatic Orders take effect?"

For the plaintiff, petitioner or filing party, the Automatic Orders of the Court are binding as soon as you sign the Complaint for Divorce.  For the spouse who is to be served, the Automatic Orders  are binding at the very moment they are served by a sheriff or constable.

As will be seen in another blog article posting, in a Rhode Island Divorce there is more to the Automatic Orders than meets the eye.  Rule of Thumb . . . when in doubt leave everything as it has been in the past.  Don't sell property.  Don't change insurances.  Don't make substantial additional charges on your credit cards.  In a nutshell . . . . don't play games or a judge just might find that your actions merit a quick trip to the ACI for a few days.

All my Best to All Who Go Before the Rhode Island Family Court,

Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"

RI Divorce Court - How long do you have to be a resident to get a Rhode Island Divorce in Family Court?

Do you want to know what the domicile and residency requirements in Rhode Island Divorce Court to qualify for filing a Rhode Island Divorce?  It's as simple as reading.  As many law school professors their law students, READ the LAW, READ THE LAW, READ THE LAW!

Rhode Island General Laws (a.k.a. R.I. Gen. Laws)

§ 15-5-12. Domicile and residence requirements  (As of 2011 RI General Assembly Session)

(a) No complaint for divorce from the bond of marriage shall be granted unless the plaintiff has been a domiciled inhabitant of this state and has resided in this state for a period of one year next before the filing of the complaint; provided, that if the defendant has been a domiciled inhabitant of this state and has resided in this state for the period of one year next before the filing of the complaint, and is actually served with process, the requirement of this subsection as to domicile and residence on the part of the plaintiff is deemed satisfied and fulfilled. The residence and domicile of any person immediately prior to the commencement of his or her active service as a member of the armed forces or of the merchant marine of the United States, or immediately prior to his or her absence from the state in the performance of services in connection with military operations as defined in subsection (c) of this section, shall, for the purposes of this section, continue to be his or her residence and domicile during the time of his or her service and for a period of thirty (30) days after this. Testimony to prove domicile and residence may be received through the ex parte affidavit of one witness.

(b) Every word importing the masculine gender only shall be construed in this section to extend to and include females as well as males.

(c) The term "services in connection with military operations" shall be construed in this section to include persons serving with the American Red Cross, the Society of Friends, the Women's Auxiliary Service Pilots, and the United Service Organizations.

Generally speaking you or your spouse must have physically resided at the place where you have declared as your primary home (i.e. your domicile) continuously for at least 1 year immediately before you file your complaint for divorce.

Still have questions about this law.  Post a comment with a question and I'll see what I can do to help you further.

All My Best to Everyone With a Matter in the RI Family Court,
Attorney Christopher A. Pearsall aka "The Rhode Island Divorce Coach"

176 Blackrock Road
Coventry, RI 02816
(401) 632-6976 

A Rhode Island Divorce Resource for Lawyers and Consumers

Whether you are representing yourself, or you intend on hiring one of the many Rhode Island divorce lawyers that can be found throughout Rhode Island, it is best to be informed.  Being informed sometimes means buckling down and reading and re-reading the Rhode Island General Laws.

The laws for divorce and all domestic relations can be found at the Rhode Island State Website, specifically the section for the Rhode Island General Laws for Domestic Relations Law found at this link

Rhode Island General Laws - Domestic Relations Law

You may want to bookmark this Rhode Island General Assembly website in your bookmarks.  However, if you ever happen to forget the website address you can usually find it by searching on "Rhode Island General Laws" on Google.com.

Rhode Island Divorce Tip: Do your divorce homework!

There is nothing more powerful than information.  When you are headed for divorce, the more information you have the better. What do I mean?   I mean . . . do your divorce homework.

Take a look at the Rhode Island laws governing divorce and read through them.

Is it your attorney's job to guide you through the process?  Absolutely.

Yet it would be ridiculous for anyone to think they will master the divorce process by the time they complete their first, second or even third divorce (if they have the displeasure of going through more than one).

By being an informed client you can think about the issues in advance and know what you would like to do in a particular situation. Ultimately YOU are the client and you are the one who makes the major decisions on what you will and will not agree to if you want to reach a divorce settlement.

You have a substantially greater chance at being more effective, calmer and more helpful and cost efficient for your attorney if you do your divorce homework. In this case I mean that you should read the Divorce Laws for Rhode Island which are found here.

Rhode Island Domestic Relations Laws

Not all the sections will relate to your particular case but most of the time you can pick those that aren't likely to apply.

Then, do some research at some different websites on the internet but try to be specific to Rhode Island Divorce otherwise it is very easy to become misinformed.

By doing your homework you can help your attorney and yourself get to a faster resolution.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.