Part One of our Four part series will take a look at the different types of divorce along with the factors and requirements that separate them. This informational series will be useful to assist in reducing problems while obtaining your divorce in Rhode Island.
1. Residency Requirements – To obtain a divorce in Rhode Island you must be a resident for one year or more. If you are not a resident but your spouse is and has been a resident of Rhode Island for at least one year you can file a petition using the residency of your spouse to justify filing your petition in Rhode Island.
2. Time to Obtain a Divorce – Upon filing, a “nominal” date is set which is normally three months from filing. Assuming you have a hearing on that date it takes another three months for the divorce to finalize. An uncontested divorce with no issues/problems can be heard by the court within 60 days of filing after which time you will receive a certified copy of the Decision Pending Final Judgment. Thereafter,
a. If the reasons for the divorce were “irreconcilable differences” you must wait another 90 days (unless a motion is presented to the Chief Judge to shorten the time – unusual) before it is final at which time we will provide a certified copy of a Final Judgment for you.
b. If reason was due to living separately/apart for more than three years then the waiting period until you obtain your Final Judgment is twenty days after filing of the Decision Pending Final Judgment.
3. Kinds of Divorce – There are two kinds of divorce in Rhode Island:
a. Nominal: this is basically an uncontested divorce. To reach this stage often involves extensive negotiations between the parties either directly, through their attorneys, mediation or a combination of the preceding. The most prevalent/efficient method of resolving differences is through attorney to attorney negotiations frequently involving the parties in the discussions.
b. Contested: when the parties cannot agree on issues concerning placement, custody or visitation of the minor children (under age of 18) or parties cannot agree on an equitable division of the assets considered to be marital, eventually a trial is held and a family court judge or magistrate decides these issues.
4. Grounds for Divorce – There are several reasons in Rhode Island that are grounds for the basis of a divorce. They are:
a. “Irreconcilable differences leading to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” This is the most commonly used reason for divorce and is often referred to as a “no fault” divorce. However, irreconcilable differences is a broad term that can cover a virtually endless list of reasons. Once the parties have reached an agreement it is the practice of this office to suggest to the court that the reasons are the parties argued, fought and developed separate lifestyles. Our belief; there is no reason to spell out specific details of why a marriage failed saving embarrassment of either or both parties.
b. “Living separate and apart for more than three years.” If you have not co-habituated (lived together as husband and wife in the same home nor been intimate) for more than three years, filing for this reason will speed up the process and you would receive your final judgment twenty days after filing the Decision Pending Final Judgment.
c. Additional but rarely utilized grounds for divorce:
iii. Extreme cruelty;
iv. Willful desertion for five (5) years of either of the parties, or for willful desertion for a shorter period of time in the discretion of the court;
v. Continued drunkenness;
vi. The habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, or chloral;
vii. Neglect and refusal, for period of at least one year before the filing of the petition, on part of the husband to provide necessities for his wife, the husband being of sufficient ability; and (8) Any other gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, in violation of the marriage covenant.
d. Divorces from bed, board, and future cohabitation, until the parties are settled, is another rarely used provision.
Please stay tuned for the next part in our “Thinking of Divorce” series detailing the specific documents required for filing a divorce, as well as the cost and service associated with it. Of course, if you need immediate assistance or information call one of our expert divorce attorneys now at (401) 725-1810.