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.
Divorce trial in Providence Family Court
After motions have been heard, discovery is complete and the court has scheduled numerous pretrial conferences on the matter, the Providence family Court Judge or General Magistrate will schedule a RI divorce trial. A RI divorce trial may also encompass all matters concerning the party’s children. Therefore a divorce trial can also be custody, relocation out of state, child support and or visitation trial. This trial will typically be scheduled prior to 1 year after the Plaintiff spouse filed the divorce in Providence, Newport, Washington or Kent County Family Court. (The trial will typically e scheduled 8-11 months after the filing.)
A Trial on the merits
If the Rhode Island divorce is not settled through a nominal divorce hearing then the RI Family Court may schedule a pretrial conference. The Providence Family Court judge usually will make an effort to help the parties resolve the divorce cause of action at that pretrial divorce conference. There may be several pretrial conferences in a Rhode Island divorce. After the pretrial conference, the judge will schedule the divorce for a trial on the merits. Preparing for a full trial on the merits is a very time consuming and expensive proposition for a RI divorce attorney. A divorce trial, typically, will encompass all issues including: custody, child support, visitation, equitable division of assets as well as division personal property.
Most cases settle before or during a divorce trial
The parties need to have all evidence ready to be presented to the court and subpoenas in place for all important witnesses. A large percent of the cases that go to the day of trial settle on the first day of trial. Many cases settle after the trial begins but before the judge issues a decision. Even if the case settles on the first day of the divorce trial, the Rhode Island Family Court lawyer must still prepare the case as if it will be a full trial on the merits
A losing proposition for all
A trial is often a lose- lose proposition for the parties since a judge will be deciding their fate, dividing their property and determining their custodial rights. If the parties settle ,at least, they know the final disposition of the divorce.
Also see: “Divorce trials are very different from divorce hearings. A hearing is when a judge takes testimony or hears arguments from counsel about pretrial matters such as Child Custody, Child Support, Child Visitation, Contempt, Restraining Orders, Discovery motions, Motions to Modify Child Support, Temporary Alimony etc. Divorce hearings occur much more frequently than divorce trials. If you are visiting Court and see someone testifying it is most likely a hearing or a nominal hearing rather than a divorce trial. When the parties reach a settlement pursuant to Rhode Island Law there must be a brief “nominal” hearing in which the parties must testify. This type of hearing is a formality” http://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=18180
The Plaintiff will present their witnesses first and the defendant has the right to cross examine those witnesses. The defendant will have the opportunity to present witnesses and testimony after Plaintiff rests.