Divorce can be an overwhelming and confusing time in anyone’s life – but it doesn’t have to be! Attorney John R. Grasso has years of experience with Rhode Island divorces – both uncontested divorces and contested divorces.
If you are contemplating getting divorced or have been served by your spouse, you are going to have questions.
Representing yourself is called “pro se”. While there may be an upfront financial savings, navigating the law and legal process requires skill, training and experience, and you run the risk of having to pay more fees later to correct mistakes. It’s important to seek sound legal counsel to understand your rights and obligations, as well as the ramifications of any agreement you consent to. You want to ensure that you hire an attorney with Rhode Island Family Court experience and a proven track record.
The choice of a legal representative is yours. Generally, you can replace current counsel with a new attorney at any point in the legal process. You can also choose to represent yourself or switch from pro se to hiring an attorney.
Each divorce is as unique as the two spouses in the marriage. While no one can exactly predict the path your divorce will take, there is a general path divorces in Rhode Island travel. First, one party (spouse), the plaintiff, must sue the other for a divorce (file specific pleadings or legal documents), then have them served by a constable to the other party. The party who was served, the defendant, should answer with their own set of pleadings in a timely manner. The parties can either work things out before court and at their first court date present their agreement for a nominal divorce, or they may require several court dates to resolve the issues. Once an agreement has been reached, the parties have 90 days to change their mind before the judge signs a Final Judgment which legally ends the marriage and provides the parties with a divorce. At that point, the case is closed until if/when one party returns with an issue.
The time period to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island varies from under 6 months to years, depending on the issues at hand and the parties’ willingness to come to an agreement. Other factors, such as the court’s calendar, may prolong or expedite the matter.
A fault divorce is when one party alleges adultery, abandonment, or cruelty by the other party and has proof while a no-fault divorce (more common) is when neither party is at fault and a divorce is sought under “irreconcilable differences”. A contested divorce is when the parties are unable to agree while an uncontested divorce is when both parties come to an agreement with the goal of obtaining a divorce (also known as a nominal).
You may be able to file for a fault divorce but the pros and cons of taking this route are best discussed with a divorce attorney.
Rhode Island has specific factors which must be met before one spouse is compelled the other spouse alimony; this is a great question to discuss during your consultation with a Rhode Island divorce attorney.
Generally speaking, retirement funds obtained during the marriage are shared between the parties, however, there are occasions where this is not the status quo. If you and/or your spouse have retirement assets, it’s important to share this information when meeting with your divorce lawyer.
Yes, if both parties agree, you can mediate the terms of your divorce with a third party, then present your agreement to the judge. It’s still important to seek the legal guidance of a divorce attorney to ensure that the agreement is fair and equitable.
Generally speaking, you can change your mind at any time, however, this does not guarantee that the outcome will change, or be in your favor. For example, once you agree to waive alimony, this action is permanent and cannot be undone, however, in the event of parenting time, you can always petition the court with a Motion to Modify requesting changes to the existing schedule.
If you have children, the decision to represent yourself is filled with potential hazards. You may have concerns about placement and visitation, child support or relocation outside of Rhode Island that are best addressed with the assistance of counsel.
Even in amicable divorces, finances can quickly take the driver’s seat and raise issues about tax returns, businesses, assets and liabilities (debts), or even hidden bank accounts, property, or debts.
Perhaps you aren’t ready for a divorce but want to protect yourself and your future. You may want to learn more about legal separation or pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.
Rhode Island is one of few states that recognizes common law marriage – which means you need a divorce to move on from the relationship and ending the relationship isn’t as simple as breaking up and moving out.
Is your spouse harassing you? Your circumstances may qualify for protection from your spouse’s abuse with a restraining or no contact order.
You may also have already been granted a Rhode Island divorce but have issues that arose after the divorce was made final (post-final judgment), such as child support implementation, modification or termination, requests to modify parenting time/visitation/placement or relocate out of Rhode Island, enforcement of QDRO or other financial obligations, etc. Perhaps your now-ex-spouse isn’t following your Court Order, necessitating a Motion to Adjudge in Contempt.
Ok, I’m ready to schedule my consultation! What do I need to do?
- Contact Attorney Grasso today at (401) 272-4001 to schedule your consultation. You will be provided an intake form – be sure to take your time reading the questions and provide as detailed and accurate information as possible. If you have additional information you feel may be relevant as well as any questions you’d like to address, be sure to make a list. Be prepared to answer personal questions (such as your financial status, information about yourself and/or your spouse and children, etc.) – it is crucial to be HONEST as this information will determine how Attorney Grasso is able to advise you specifically.
- Custody (legal decision making)
- Placement (primary residence)
- Relocation (moving out of RI)
- Parenting plan (visitation, holidays, etc.)
- Child support (implication, modification, termination)
Pleadings (legal documents)
- Marital or property settlement agreement
- Pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement
- Motions (requesting your ex-spouse do something)
- Objections (in response to your ex-spouse’s motions)
- Discovery process
- Restraining or no contact orders
- Legal representation vs pro se (representing yourself)
- Filing and serving your spouse
- Being served by and responding to your spouse
- What to expect at your court hearing
- Enforcing court orders
- Motions for modification (make changes) or to adjudge in contempt (not doing what agreed to)