A Divorce Can Be heard 75 days After the Complaint is Filed.
The Rhode Island Family Court has a fast track for uncontested divorces. When a divorce is filed, the clerk will schedule the case for an uncontetsted divorce hearing for approximately 75 days after filing. If the parties have resolved all issues, the divorce can be granted on that day. In some cases, the court can waive this initial waiting period and grant a divorce immediately after the complaint is filed. The waiver requires both parties to sign a document requesting expedited treatment and asserting that there is absolutely no chance of a reconciliation. A divorce does not become final until either the expiration of either the 21 or 90 day additional waiting period after the first hearing. If the divorce was granted on the grounds of "irreconcilable differences" then it is a 90 day additional waiting period. If the divorce was granted on the grounds that the parties lived "separate and apart for at least 3 years" then it is a 21 day additional waiting period.
An Award of Alimony is Not the Norm in Most Cases.
Thinking of asking for some form of alimony? Think again. Rhode Island is not a very "alimony friendly" state. In the absent of unusual circumstances, alimony is NOT awarded in the vast majority of divorce cases. And in the rare case where alimony is awarded, it is typically for a short period of time and designed to help rehabilitate the needy spouse.
Your Spouse Will Not Be Ordered To Pay Your Legal Fees!
Litigants spend so much wasted time fighting about payment of legal fees in a divorce proceeding. Once again, it is extremely unusual for one spouse to be ordered to pay the others legal bill for divorce representation. Just doesn't happen in 98% of the cases. However, if a spouse is found to be in contempt of a Family Court order, then the Court can and usually will order the non compliant party to pay the legal fees and expenses of the party seeking to enforce the prior court order.
Don't Forget to Cancel the Joint Credit Cards!
Spouses need to make sure they have accurate information regarding the status of credit card debts. If a credit card debt is a true joint obligation ( that is both spouses have contractual liability) then it makes sense for the account to be cancelled. The spouse assuming the obligation wants to be sure that no future charges are added to the balance by the soon to be ex spouse. Having the non paying spouse cut up the card or surrender the card to the other spouse is not a good way to handle the situation. Cancelling the account guarantees this result. I have seen too many cases where the card was not cancelled and the ex spouse calls the credit card company after the divorce asking for another card to be issued and sent to their new address. Ex spouse uses the card in a reckless fashion and the other spouse is left holding the bag because of the continued contractual liability created when the account was opened. Many divorce lawyers overlook this important point.
Will My Husband be ordered To maintain My Health Insurance?
Generally speaking, most Family Court Judges when pressed will require one spouse to continue medical coverage for the other provided the coverage is available at NO additional cost and assuming the company has a policy of covering ex spouses and provided the spouse seeking coverage does not have comparable coverage available through their employer. The unfortunate reality is that most companies terminate spouses upon entry of a final decree of divorce.
Sole of Joint Custody, Does It Really Matter?
The concept of custody causes a great deal strife in the Family Court. Generally speaking, if a parent is a fit and proper person, then joint custody of the children will be awarded. In my experience, when requested by a parent, the Family court will award joint custody in the absence of compelling circumstances. This does not mean the children spend 50% of the time with each parent. Rather the children will reside with one parent, with the other parent experiencing reasonable and liberal rights of visitation. Battles over custody are often power struggles between the litigants. One spouse is often angry about the breakup and will use the "custody" card to hurt the other spouse. Does being a good, loving, caring and nurturing parent have anything to do with whether you are awarded joint or sole custody of your children? I think not. However, I most certainly understand the emotional charge of the issue.
The Amount of Child Support is generally Predestined
Rhode Island has income guidelines that assist in providing uniform awarded of child support. The gross earnings of each parent, plus costs of medical insurance and daycare expenses are Incorporated into this formula. If both spouse are W-2 wage earners and not self employed, then there really is no benefit to fight about child support because in 99% of the cases the Family Court Judge is going to award what the guideline so states. Now in cases where there is "under the table" or hidden earnings, then contested hearings about child support may be beneficial especially if one spouse is hiding income.
How Much Will It Cost For A Rhode Island Divorce?
I have filed over 1500 divorces over the last 24 years. So I think I have a pretty good statistical picture of how things play out. 99.5% of my cases ultimately settle without a trial. If a case is truly uncontested, with no children and no assets to divide, a divorce will cost around $600.00 plus costs ( filing fee to clerk of $120.00 and cost to have other spouse served which is usually about $40). If the parties have children but nevertheless have resolved all issues the fee is usually around $850.00 plus costs. If a case is what I call "semi uncontested"- which means that there appear to be some issues which could be resolved quickly-then the cost is usually between $1000.00 to $1500.00. One thing I have learned in this business is that spending a lot of money on legal fees in a divorce proceeding does not make a lot of economic sense especially when a good lawyer can tell you the results of your case before it even starts.
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