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Divorce in Rhode Island

The decision to get divorced often comes after considerable stress and frustration. Now that you have reached this point, you are likely ready to move forward as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Fortunately, the state of Rhode Island makes getting a divorce relatively straightforward, especially if you meet the requirements for an uncontested divorce – one where you and your spouse agree on all important terms of the divorce, like property division and child custody (if you have children). If this is the case you may qualify to complete your divorce without a lawyer. If you choose to pursue your divorce on your own, you only have to fill out the appropriate divorce forms and submit them to your county court to begin the process. To make the process even easier many Rhode Islanders use CompleteCase.com to complete the required Rhode Island divorce papers.  

If you and your spouse are having difficulty reaching divorce terms that you can both be satisfied with, you may benefit from divorce mediation. Mediation in Rhode Island allows you to meet with a professional mediator, someone trained to help divorcing couples come to terms that both parties can be satisfied with.

The following information will help you to better understand divorce in Rhode Island and how to begin your own divorce process.

Rhode Island Divorce Facts

In 2011, data reported to Centers for Disease Control (CDC), indicated that the divorce rate in Rhode Island was 3.2 for every 1,000 residents. This places the state's divorce rate on the lower end of divorce rates by state in the U.S.

Rhode Island accepts both fault-based and no-fault divorces. In a fault-based divorce, you must prove that your spouse was responsible for the divorce based on grounds accepted by the state. Grounds for divorce in Rhode Island include adultery, extreme cruelty and impotency. In a no-fault divorce, you only have to state that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that it will not improve.

Most people prefer no-fault divorces because they are usually faster and less expensive than a fault-based divorce. Rhode Island requires that either you or your spouse have lived in the state for a year before you can begin the filing process.

Rhode Island Divorce Papers and Forms

The divorce papers you’re required to fill out for Rhode Island will vary based on several factors, including if you and your spouse have minor children or not. You may also need to complete specific forms based on the county where you are filing. It is always advisable to check with your county court to make sure you are completing all required divorce documents for your circumstances.

Some of the common divorce forms required by Rhode Island include the “Complaint”, the “Verification” and the “Summons”. The Rhode Island Judiciary website has a Self-Help Center that explains the basics of representing yourself in a case, but it does not provide all the forms you need to file for divorce in the state. You should review what information is available on the site. The more you know about representing yourself, the better you can look out for your interests as you move forward with your case.

If you want to get divorce forms online, you may find CompleteCase.com helpful. At CompleteCase.com, you can get guidance in choosing the right divorce forms for your specific circumstances. You can also get assistance in filling out your documents. By working with CompleteCase.com, you can lessen the chance that your divorce will be delayed due to incorrect paperwork.

How to File Divorce Papers in Rhode Island

When you have completed your divorce papers online or otherwise, you will need to make two copies in addition to the original set of documents. You will file one set with the county clerk, you will serve one set to your spouse and you will keep the last set for your records. Avoid signing your documents until you are in the presence of a notary public, as the court will not consider an un-notarized signature acceptable.

Many courts offer notary services when you file, but not all do. You should contact your county court before you leave to file and verify that you can get your documents notarized. You can also ask to make sure you bring everything you need, including a form of payment for the state filing fee accepted by the court.  You may be able to get your filing fee waived if you are unable to afford it. You can ask the county clerk for a waiver form. If the court grants your request, you can file for divorce without a filing cost.

Once the fee is considered paid, you’ll submit your documents to the clerk who will stamp the documents with a date and a case number. Now you are ready to serve your spouse.

How to Serve Divorce Papers in Rhode Island

When you “serve” the divorce paperwork to your spouse, you are merely delivering copies of the documents. Service allows your spouse to respond to the divorce complaint if he or she has additional input or wants to contest what is stated. It is an important part of the legal process.

Rhode Island allows you to serve your spouse in two ways. You can pay a local sheriff near your spouse to deliver the papers, or you can hire a private constable. Each of these will charge you a fee for the service, and each will give you a document verifying that your spouse has been served. You will want to file this proof with the court to complete the filing process.

If you cannot locate your spouse, you will need to notify the court who may give you the option of publishing the divorce notice in a local newspaper. This is the most expensive way to serve someone, and is only used as a last resort when there is no way to locate the person.

If you and your spouse are in agreement on all terms of the divorce, the divorce should not take too long to finalize. However, if you have things that need to be argued in front of the court, the divorce may take considerably longer.

Do you qualify for an online divorce?

Do you know the location of your spouse?
Is your spouse in agreement regarding this divorce and willing to sign the divorce papers with you?
Do you and your spouse have any children under the age of 18 from this marriage?