No Fault Divorce In RI

No Fault Divorce In RI

No-Fault Divorce in Rhode Island Explained

Looking for answers on grounds for divorce in RI? You’re in the right place.

Filing for divorce in Rhode Island is never an easy decision to make, even if it’s what’s best for you and your family in the long run. With emotions and tensions running high, the average divorce is stressful and wrought with conflict. Most people just want it to be over as soon as possible, so they can get back to their lives. Fortunately, Rhode Island has laws and procedures that can help exes separate quickly with minimal tension. Here’s everything you need to know about no fault divorce in Rhode Island.

Fault in Rhode Island Explained

In order to obtain a divorce in some states, you must prove that one person involved was “at fault” or violated their marriage agreement. Grounds for an at-fault divorce in Rhode Island include:
  • Impotency
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion for 5 years or more, or willful desertion of a shorter time period at the discretion of the court
  • Drunkenness or substance abuse
  • Neglect or refusal
  • Any other “gross misbehavior and wickedness” in violation of the marriage agreement

To obtain an at-fault divorce, you’ll need to provide definitive evidence of your spouse’s misconduct, which can be tough to obtain. This often makes the court process for an at-fault divorce long and stressful, which is where Rhode Island’s status as a no-fault divorce state comes in handy.

What is a no-fault divorce? Divorce for irreconcilable differences explained

Rhode Island is one of several no-fault divorce states in the US. This means that anyone can file for a divorce at any time without having to prove that the other person was “at fault”. The officially cited reason for a no-fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences”, but people obtain no-fault divorces for all sorts of reasons, including falling out of love, communication problems, different life goals and aspirations, disagreements over raising children, and other marital problems.

It’s important to note that even if your marriage meets the criteria for an at-fault divorce, such as if your spouse commited adultery, you can still obtain a no-fault divorce. Because the no-fault divorce process is quicker and easier to obtain than an at-fault divorce, many people choose to file for no-fault even if they qualify for an at-fault divorce, simply so that they can speed the Rhode Island divorce process along. This is also ideal if you don’t have adequate evidence for your spouse’s misconduct during your marriage, but still want to separate from them.

How do I file for a no-fault divorce in Rhode Island?

To obtain a no-fault divorce in Rhode Island, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
  • You or your spouse must be a Rhode Island resident for at least 1 year
  • There must be an “irredeemable breakdown of the marriage” due to irreconcilable differences
  • You and your spouse must have been “separated without cohabitation” for at least 3 years

You can obtain the necessary Rhode Island divorce papers at your local county courthouse. If your spouse currently lives outside the state, you can file for divorce at the Providence Family Courthouse.

How long does it take to obtain a no-fault divorce?

While one of the conditions to obtaining a no-fault divorce is living separately for at least 3 years, it’s still possible to obtain a divorce sooner. If you and your spouse haven’t been separated for at least 3 years, you can still obtain a “nominal divorce”, although you’ll have to wait 3 months before it can be finalized.

It usually takes around 75 days after filing a divorce petition for your hearing to take place in RI divorce court. Then, depending on how long you and your spouse have been separated, you’ll have either a 21 or 90 day waiting period before your final court date. Most spouses use this time to negotiate an uncontested divorce, which can make separating even quicker.

What is an uncontested divorce?

When filing for a no-fault divorce, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate all details of your divorce, including how you’ll share custody of any minor children, the amount of any alimony or child support payments, and how you’ll divide your property and marital assets.

If you can both agree on every condition, then your divorce is considered ‘uncontested” and all the judge has to do is approve it. Judges will usually approve any decisions that both spouses can come to on their own, so long as it doesn’t affect any minor children in any way. However, if you can’t come to an agreement through negotiations then you’ll have to escalate your case to court to settle those differences.

Can fault still come into play in a no-fault divorce?

Yes. Although no-fault divorces don’t penalize either spouse, fault can still come into play when dividing assets in a no-fault divorce. Judges will consider both spouse’s conduct during the marriage as a factor when dividing property such as houses, cars, and shared bank accounts. For example, if one spouse used money from a shared bank account to carry on an affair, then the judge would be less likely to award this spouse a higher share of the marital assets.

It’s important to note that fault doesn’t always affect custody arrangements, neither does it always affect child support or alimony in RI. Unless one spouse has a history of abuse, negligence or is otherwise a danger to any minor children in a divorce, judges generally believe that it is in the best interest of children to have both parents involved in their upbringing.

Alimony and child support are not methods to “punish” an errant spouse. Instead, they’re tools to get an out-of-work spouse back on their feet and to raise a child with adequate financial care, respectively.

Settling things out of court

If it all possible, the easiest and fastest way to settle a no-fault divorce is usually through negotiations during the waiting period after your initial divorce hearing. An expert divorce attorney can make the negotiation process even smoother.

Who’s the best Rhode Island divorce lawyer for divorce mediation?

Do you need a helping hand during a stressful time? Warwick divorce lawyer Paul Ferns is here for you.

With his calm demeanor and rational approach, Attorney Ferns believes in treating all parties in a divorce with respect and courtesy. As an expert negotiator, he specializes in de-escalating conflict and keeping negotiations running smoothly. His measured approach has seen satisfying results for his clients time and time again, both inside and outside the courtroom. If you want to settle your no-fault divorce outside of a courtroom, don’t wait. Contact the best Warwick divorce attorney today for a free consultation.

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