Rhode Island Divorce laws


Rhode Island divorce attorney, David Slepkow answers several basic yet important questions concerning Rhode Island divorce law and procedure. These  Rhode island divorce law questions will help Divorce litigants and those thinking about filing for divorce in Rhode Island navigate through the complex, and confusing minefield that is RI Family Court.

What are the grounds to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island?

custodial law in RI

Rhode Island child divorce attorney

Pursuant to RI divorce law the grounds to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island are: “irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage (SECTION 15-5-3.1), the parties have lived separate and apart from each other for the space of at least three years (SECTION 15-5-3), Impotency;  Adultery;  Extreme cruelty; Willful desertion for five  years of either of the parties, or for willful desertion for a shorter period of time in the discretion of the court;  Continued drunkenness;  The habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, or chloral; Neglect and refusal, for the period of at least one year next before the filing of the petition, on the part of the husband to provide necessaries for the subsistence of his wife, the husband being of sufficient ability; and  Any other gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, repugnant to and in violation of the marriage covenant.” § 15-5-2 Additional grounds for divorce.  TITLE 15 Domestic Relations CHAPTER 15-5 Divorce and Separation

Is Rhode Island a no fault state?

Yes. Rhode Island is a “no fault” divorce state. However, this no-fault designation is a misnomer since it means that fault grounds are not necessary to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island. This does NOT mean that fault is irrelevant in a Rhode Island divorce.  This means that all that is required TO OBTAIN A DIVOIRCE is irreconcilable differences that lead to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage (15-5-3.1). The vast majority of divorces in Rhode Island are filed based on irreconcilable differences grounds. Of the divorces that are filed based on fault grounds, the vast majority are not granted based on fault grounds. This is because the alleged at fault spouse refuses to agree to settle the divorce case with a fault designation. I have seen some divorces in which fault grounds are the basis for the divorce when there was a full divorce trial on the merits or when the other spouse was defaulted for not attending court or answering the RI divorce case.

Here is an article authored by Rhode Island divorce lawyer, David Slepkow concerning no fault divorce in Rhode Island. Why Fault Matters in a NO Fault Divorce in Rhode Island

Fault still could play a role in the equitable distribution of assets and debts pursuant to the Rhode Island equitable distribution statute (SECTION 15-5-16.1) The equitable

divorce in RI

RI divorce attorney Slepkow

distribution statute sets forth 12 factors to determine equitable distribution. Factors #2  and #11 directly pertain to fault as a grounds to distribute debt and assets. Element #12 is a catch-all which could include fault.

Here are elements #2, #11 and #12 from the RI equitable distribution statute: “… (2) “The conduct of the parties during the marriage; …. (11) Either party’s wasteful dissipation of assets or any transfer or encumbrance of assets made in contemplation of divorce without fair consideration; and…. (12) Any factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.”  RI General law 15-5-3.1

I would also point out that other factors could be relevant to fault such as the contributions each spouse has made to preservation of assets.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in Rhode Island?

If everything is agreed to and the matter is uncontested, the initial court date is 60 plus days from the date the divorce is filed.  The initial court date approximately 60 days from filing is called the “nominal hearing.” RI general law 15-5-14 sets forth a minimum 60 day waiting period. After the Rhode Island Family Court issues a decision, there is a three month waiting period until final judgment of divorce may enter. Therefore, the minimum time** to get a divorce in Rhode Island is approximately 151 days (5 months). (** unless the 60 day period is shortened by the Court upon motion)

“no petition for divorce or separation shall be in order for hearing until after the expiration of sixty (60) days after the filing of the petition, unless sooner ordered, ex parte, by a justice of the family court. During this period the family counseling service may investigate the circumstances at the discretion of the court, or at the request of either party, counsel the parties, and make recommendations to the court and the parties.”  TITLE 15 Domestic Relations CHAPTER 15-5 Divorce and Separation SECTION 15-5-14

As 15-5-4 indicates the 60 day period can be shortened. This usually occurs if both parties agree to shorten the waiting period for good cause and the judge grants a motion to shorten the waiting period.

A contested divorce could take a year or longer to complete in Rhode Island.

Is there a waiting period in Rhode Island to finalize a divorce?

Providence Family Court divorce attorney

Rhode Island child support law

After a decision by the justice of the family court at a nominal divorce hearing or contested  divorce trial, the final judgment may not be submitted to the court for entry until after 3 months. This was implemented by the legislature allowing a cooling off period in case the parties reconciled and decided not to go through with the divorce.

“§ 15-5-23 Final judgment – Remarriage.  (a) No judgment for a divorce shall become final and operative until three (3) months after the trial and decision. Final decree from the bond of marriage may be entered ex parte and in chambers on the suggestion of the prevailing party at any time within one hundred eighty (180) days next after the expiration of three (3) months from the date of decision. After the expiration of the one hundred eighty (180) days, final decrees may be entered only in open court and on motion or upon written consent of the attorneys or parties. Notice of the filing of the motion shall not be required in cases in which the original complaint is unanswered.” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/title15/15-5/15-5-23.HTM

When can I get remarried after a divorce in Rhode Island?

“After entry of the final judgment for a divorce from the bond of marriage, either party may marry again.” http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/title15/15-5/15-5-23.HTM 

Do I need a Rhode Island divorce attorney to file for divorce in Rhode Island?

No, a RI divorce lawyer is not required in Rhode Island Family court. However, it is usually a bad idea to represent yourself in a divorce, especially if the divorce is contested. Divorce lawyers in Rhode Island will be familiar with the Court system, divorce law in RI, the judges who will decide the case as well as the rules and procedures of the Court


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email

Letter for children to give to parents to stop custody war

Here is a letter for children to give to their parents who are involved in a highly contested and bitter custody, visitation or divorce war. This letter is for kids who want their parents to stop fighting and feuding regarding custody and … [Continue reading]

Common Reasons Why People Request to Modify Child Support

Many people are unaware that after a child support amount is established  by the Providence Family Court, it can be changed. The RI Family Court Court will require that the reason for the change is valid and that there has been a substantial change … [Continue reading]

Less Common Reasons for Divorce in Rhode Island

Providence Family Court attorneys

In most cases, the pathway that leads to divorce or separation is very understandable to every member of the family. Often times, married couples develop long-term patterns of infidelity, abuse, addiction or deceit. However, in some incidences, the … [Continue reading]

Surviving Divorce: The do’s and don’ts post divorce

Surviving a divorce in Rhode Island can be a vulnerable and painful time that seems to never end. In addition to the emotional fallout, many ex-spouses face numerous post-divorce issues involving child support, spousal maintenance, custody issues, … [Continue reading]

When Can a RI Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

Is there a particular age when a child in Rhode Island can decide which parent they want to reside with, in a RI child custody, post divorce or Divorce cause of action? In other words can a child in Rhode Island decide where they want to … [Continue reading]

Navigating a High Conflict Divorce

Every divorce is stressful and and often brings out the worst out in most of us. However, a high conflict divorce is far more nerve-racking when couples engage in hostile or aggressive confrontation instead of using legal negotiation tools to resolve … [Continue reading]

Haphazard Life Insurance Trusts Common in Divorce | How to do properly

After months of arguing, motions and tedious discovery in a RI divorce, someone remembers the life insurance policies at the last minute. Everyone is worn down and wants to get the ghastly divorce cause of action over, as soon as possible. Life … [Continue reading]

To Prenup or Not to Prenup in RI? That is the question…

While the prospect of marriage in Rhode Island is often a fulfillment of a lifetime dream for most couples, it is unfortunate to note that the majority of the marriages end up in a divorce. This is where a prenuptial agreement, otherwise known as an … [Continue reading]

Important Considerations in Drafting a RI Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement in Rhode Island should be drafted by a RI divorce attorney or A Rhode island prenuptial agreement lawyer. Under what circumstances should a prenuptial agreement be considered in Rhode Island? Premarital agreements are not … [Continue reading]

Step-By-Step Advice For Those Thinking About Divorce in RI

Divorce is a word that strikes fear into the heart of pretty much the vast majority of married men or woman in the world. After all, a divorce signifies a major change in your personal life, and chances are you went into your marriage thinking it … [Continue reading]

10 Critical Mistakes Some People Make During Their Divorce

Going through the process of divorce in Rhode Island can be an emotionally trying experience. After all, no one goes into marriage with the thought of divorce looming in their minds. While it can often times be difficult to see the forest for the … [Continue reading]

Why Most States & RI Have Made No-Fault Divorce the Standard

For generations, proving fault, the seedy or unsavory action of one spouse was the only option or grounds to obtain a divorce. However, no-fault divorce has become very popular in recent years as a way to eliminate a legal and permanent separation … [Continue reading]

Top Causes of Divorce in Rhode Island

Marriage, even between couples in love, is never easy. Even though we enter into marriage with the best intentions and the hope of a permanent future with another, most of us will divorce in time. There are numerous reasons and significant factors … [Continue reading]

RI Child Support | Private School & College Education Liability

Rhode Island child support lawyer, David Slepkow answers several frequently asked questions pertaining to liability for college and private school pursuant to RI child support law. Can I get the other parent to be ordered to contribute to my child's … [Continue reading]

Random advice from RI divorce and Custody Attorney

Do not exaggerate or embellish your case  at a hearing in front of a Rhode Island Family Court Justice or Magistrate. Credibility and Perception is of the utmost importance in Providence Family Court. If the judge does not perceive you as credible … [Continue reading]

Should sole custody be abolished in Rhode Island?

Parties who are involved in a child custody case, divorce or miscellaneous custodial petition in Providence and Kent County Family Courts typically agree to share joint custody over their minor children. Some of these agreements are driven by a … [Continue reading]

Rhode Island Child Support Statistics and Information

In Rhode Island, non-custodial parents have a legal requirement to pay their child support on a regular basis regardless if they live in the state or not. When the payment is not made, the non-custodial parent is subject to strict enforcement … [Continue reading]

Responsible Ways to Tell Your Children about the Divorce in RI

When children hear that their parents are divorcing in Rhode Island , they often have a sense of abandonment, fearing they will be on their own without help. Even though most spouses are challenged with the idea of divorce, it is essential to convey … [Continue reading]

Child Custody in RI: How a Divorce Impacts Children

In many ways, children of divorced parents in Rhode Island live a life different from those who stay at home in a stable family environment. Many married couples in RI will divorce believing that their children were unhappy because their parents were … [Continue reading]

DIVORCE IN RI- Part 5/5 “The Divorce Trial on the Merits”

This is the last segment of Rhode Island Divorce Attorney, David Slepkow's comprehensive five part series concerning divorce in RI.  This post focuses on divorce trials in Providence Family Court. Also see: Part 1 of 5 , Part 2 of 5, Part 3- of … [Continue reading]

11 Indicaters: Time to Settle Bitterly Contested Divorce

Rhode Island divorce attorney, David Slepkow, presents the top 11 indicators that it is time to end your dreadful RI divorce war. If any of these indicators are present in your Providence Family Court Divorce, it is time to set up a settlement … [Continue reading]

The RI Discovery Process- Rhode Island Divorce A-Z (Part 4-5)

This is part 4 of a 5 part series by Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer, David Slepkow concerning Divorce in RI, This post focuses on the discovery process in Providence Family Court. Part 1 of 5   Part 2 of 5    Part 3- of 5 After commencing a … [Continue reading]

10 Rhode Island Child Custody and Divorce Tips

  Never make negative or disparaging remarks about the other parent in front of the minor child. Never allow third parties to make negative or disparaging comments about the other parent or their family in front of the children. These … [Continue reading]

More Providence Family Court Tips & Some Divorce Stats

1. Perception is reality in Providence Family Court  Dress appropriately for your day in Providence Family Court. I have said this numerous times before!! Kent County Family Court in Warwick is not the beach. Washington County Family Court  is not a … [Continue reading]

RI Family Court Enters Digital Age with E files & E Filing!

The Rhode Island Family Court, in all counties across the State Of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, are taking the plunge into the digital age. The Providence Family Court will begin the process of going all digital beginning tomorrow … [Continue reading]

Basic Rhode Island Divorce FAQS by a RI divorce attorney

Rhode Island divorce lawyer, David Slepkow answers numerous questions about divorce law in Rhode Island. David Slepkow is an experienced Providence Family Court attorney  / RI divorce lawyer who has represented clients in hundreds of divorces in … [Continue reading]

Say it Aint So ABC News! ABC’s horrible RI Divorce Article

ABC News recently released an article entitled "Top 7 Worst States for Divorce". This article is terrible journalism and is wrong in nearly all respects concerning Rhode Island Divorce Law ABC news : amateur hour This article lists Rhode Island and … [Continue reading]

Random Thoughts of a RI Family Court, Custody and Divorce Attorney

Cover over your tattoos during your RI Divorce hearing when you are in front of the judge or magistrate hearing the cause of action. Perception is reality. No, you cannot sign or file something that terminates your parental rights. Parental rights … [Continue reading]

Divorce in Rhode island from A-Z- Part 3 of 5

East Providence Family law attorney, David Slepkow gives his opinion about various issues pertaining to RI divorce law. David Slepkow. David has 18 years of experience in Providence Family Court. This is part 3 of an extensive  article concerning … [Continue reading]