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Divorce in Rhode Island | Rhode Island Divorce Forms

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This easy to use online divorce is a "do it yourself (without a lawyer)" solution for any uncontested divorce (with or without children) that will be filed in the state of Rhode Island. An uncontested divorce is one in which you and your spouse are in agreement and eliminates the stress and expense of settling your divorce in court.

With 3StepDivorce TM you can complete and print your Rhode Island divorce forms (including a marital settlement agreement) instantly. Follow our step-by-step filing procedures to file your own divorce in a timely, professional, and hassle free fashion. The online software is designed to give you full control of your divorce and also avoids the use of third party data entry, thus helping protect your personal information and privacy. If you're not ready to file for divorce in Rhode Island, learn more about getting your Separation Agreement .


Online Divorce FAQ: Rhode Island

Filing for divorce can seem overwhelming. Like starting almost any other legal proceeding, it takes finding the right forms, filling out the forms properly, and understanding the court’s requirements for the next steps you’ll need to take.

Traditionally, most people have hired a lawyer to take care of all the legal matters in their divorce. But more and more couples are turning to a much cheaper option that’s still easier than figuring out everything on their own: filing for divorce online.

If you want to know more, read on for answers to some of the most common questions about online divorce in Rhode Island.

How Does Online Divorce Work in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ takes care of the divorce paperwork for you. Once you sign up for the service, you’ll answer some questions about your situation. Based on your responses to the questionnaire, Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ will fill out the forms the state requires to start the divorce process, along with instructions for adding any further information that’s needed. You’ll be able to print out the forms yourself immediately or, if you prefer, get hard copies by mail.

UPDATE: 3StepDivorce™ for Rhode Island isn’t available right now, while we update our forms and services for Rhode Island. Check back soon at 3StepDivorce.com for current availability. In the meantime, you may be able to get divorce forms at the Rhode Island Judiciary’s website or the court clerk’s office in your county, and the information below can answer your questions about getting an uncontested divorce in Rhode Island.

Can I File for Divorce in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island has two basic requirements to file for divorce in the state: a residency requirement, and a legally recognized reason (“grounds”) for ending your marriage.

What Are the Residency Requirements for Divorce in Rhode Island?

To get a divorce in Rhode Island, the filing spouse (the “plaintiff”), must be a resident of the state for at least one year immediately before filing. Alternatively, if the plaintiff doesn’t live in Rhode Island, the residency requirement can be met when the non-filing spouse (the “defendant”) has lived in the state for at least one year and is personally served with the divorce paperwork. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-12 (2022).)

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island allows both “no-fault” and “fault-based” divorces. When you file for a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to prove that your spouse was at fault for ending the marriage. There are two no-fault grounds for divorce in Rhode Island:

  • Irreconcilable differences. The spouses can no longer get along, and their differences have caused the “irremediable breakdown of the marriage.” (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-3.1 (2022).)
  • Separation. The spouses have lived separate and apart for at least three years, either voluntarily or involuntarily. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-3 (2022).)

A fault-based divorce is based on a claim that your marriage is ending because your spouse engaged in a type of misconduct–for example, adultery, extreme cruelty, or continued drunkenness. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-2 (2022).)

Fault-based divorces are almost always more expensive and lengthy, because the spouse accused of misconduct is sure to fight the allegations. And in a no-fault divorce based on separation, the court will require proof that the spouses satisfy the requirement of living separate and apart. For these reasons, most Rhode Island couples who are getting divorced choose no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences.

Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ will provide services only for couples who are getting divorced based on irreconcilable differences.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce in Rhode Island?

Many Rhode Island residents are finding that they can file for divorce and get through the process without the expense of hiring a lawyer if they’re filing for an “uncontested divorce” (called a “nominal” divorce in Rhode Island). That means that they’ve agreed with each other about all of the legal issues in their divorce, including:

If you still have disagreements with your spouse about these or any other issues involved in ending your marriage, you’ll have to file for a traditional, contested divorce. Because that will involve legal battles and presenting evidence and arguments at court hearings, it would be risky to pursue a contested divorce without a lawyer to navigate the process for you—especially if your spouse has an attorney.

Can I Use Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ in My Situation?

Once it’s available in your state, you may use Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ as long as you have an uncontested (“nominal”) divorce and meet the state’s residency requirement. You’ll need to have a written marital settlement agreement, signed by both you and your spouse, that covers all of the issues in your divorce. Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ will guide you through the process of creating this agreement, based on your answers to the questionnaire.

Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ can also help if you aren’t ready to file for divorce, but you want a separation agreement with your spouse. For instance, you might want to work out arrangements for support, custody of your children, who has to move out of the family home, and how to take care of the bills while you’re separated but still legally married.

What If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on the Issues in Our Divorce?

Just because you haven’t been able to agree with your spouse about everything in your divorce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go through an expensive and time-consuming contested divorce. You could try divorce mediation. If you’re able to resolve your disagreements with the mediator’s help, you can then use Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ to prepare the written settlement agreement, along with the other divorce paperwork.

Can I Get an Online Divorce in Rhode Island If I Have Children?

Generally, you can use Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ even when you have minor children with your spouse, as long as you agree on all of the issues related to your kids, including legal and physical custody, a parenting (visitation) schedule, child support, health and dental insurance, and tax deductions. Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ will allow you to address these issues in your settlement agreement. We provide a standard parenting schedule, but you’ll have an option of customizing the schedule to meet your individual needs.

However, you won’t be able to address custody-related issues with Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ if the affected child or children don’t meet the “home state” requirement. Usually, that means the child must have lived in Rhode Island with a parent (or a parent figure) during the entire six-month period before you file for divorce (or since birth if the child is younger than six months old). (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-14.1-13 (2022).) If you don’t meet the six-month rule, you should speak with an attorney to find out whether you might qualify for one of the complicated exceptions to this rule.

How Will My Online Divorce in Rhode Island Deal With Child Support?

In Rhode Island, both parents have an obligation to support their children. And like all states, Rhode Island has child support guidelines for calculating how much support the parents should pay, based largely on their incomes and custody arrangements.

Once it’s available in Rhode Island, 3StepDivorce™ will provide the Rhode Island Child Support Guideline Worksheets, so you can easily calculate the state's guideline level of support. You and your spouse may agree to an amount of child support that differs from the guideline amount, but the judge will need to review and approve your agreement. Rhode Island law requires that any time the amount of child support deviates from the guideline, the judge must find that applying the guideline would be “unjust or inappropriate” under the circumstances.

In your settlement agreement, you and your spouse may include child support provisions that aren’t legally required, such as a parent’s contributions to private school tuition or the cost of a child’s college education. You may also agree on some specific questions like which parent will claim the children as dependents on tax returns.

Will We Be Able to Change the Amount of Child Support After Divorce?

After your divorce in Rhode Island is final, you (or your spouse) may request every three years that the court review the child support order. You can also request a change in the amount of child support when you believe circumstances have changed significantly. The judge will review your request based on the same legal requirements for an original child support order.

If you want to save the time and expense of a court battle over a request to modify child support, you and your spouse may agree to a modification on your own. As a general rule, you’ll need to submit your agreement to a judge or child support agency.

You can find more information about modifying child support (and applicable forms) on the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services’ website.

How Will Online Divorce Handle Property and Debts From Our Marriage?

When you fill out your questionnaire for Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™, you’ll answer a series of questions about your separate and marital property and debts, including how you’ll divide your marital property and allocate responsibility for payment of the marital debts.

What About the Family Home?

If you own a home with your spouse, your agreement can spell out what will happen to it when you get divorced. Here again, the questionnaire will include a few questions about the property and how you’ve chosen to deal with it, such as:

  • selling the house and splitting the proceeds
  • transferring ownership to one spouse, with the other spouse receiving money or other assets in exchange for that spouse’s share, or
  • continuing to own the property together while allowing one spouse to stay in the house for a period of time (and, if so, how you’ll handle paying the mortgage and other ongoing costs).

What About Retirement Accounts?

In your Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™, you may also agree on whether and how you’ll divide any retirement accounts that you and your spouse have, including 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and defined-benefit pensions.

If you started contributing to the retirement plan before you were married, you’ll start by figuring out how much of its current value is marital property and how much is your separate property. There are experts and firms that will do this for you (for a fee, of course). The service is usually known as a pension appraisal or valuation. You’ll almost always need this kind of expert help when you’re dealing with a defined-benefit pension.

Once you know the marital value of your work-related retirement accounts, the easiest way to handle the division of the assets is not to split them but to transfer other assets as an offset. Here’s how that works: Say you have a 401(k) through your job, and the marital portion of the account is worth $100,000. If you and your spouse agree to divide that portion down the middle, and you have other marital assets to divide (such as a regular savings account), your spouse could receive an extra $50,000 from those assets while you keep the entire 401(k). That way, you don’t have to hire another expert to prepare the kind of special order that’s needed to tell the 401(k) administrator how to divide the account.

The rules are different for IRAs. You may simply agree to have your spouse’s share transferred to another IRA account in that spouse’s name. (You’ll have to submit a special form to the bank, along with a copy of your divorce decree.)

Can I Get Alimony With an Online Divorce in Rhode Island?

You and your spouse may waive any right to alimony in your Rhode Island divorce, or you may agree on the specifics of alimony payments: who will pay, how much, and for how long. Your agreement may also state whether a court could modify alimony at any time in the future, and it could cover related issues like health insurance and life insurance.

How Do I File My Divorce Papers in Rhode Island?

When you get your completed forms with Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™, your next step will be to file your paperwork. You’ll file in the family court in the county where you (the filing spouse) live. If you don’t live in Rhode Island, you can file the complaint in Providence County or the county where your spouse (the “defendant”) lives. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-13 (2022).)

How Much Is Rhode Island’s Filing Fee for Divorce?

The cost to file your divorce in Rhode Island is $160. If you choose to file your paperwork electronically, you might be charged additional fees.

What If I Can’t Afford to Pay the Divorce Filing Fee?

If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you can request that the court waive the fees. To do this, file a Plaintiff/Petitioner’s Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis with the court clerk. If the court grants your motion, you won’t have to pay any court costs or fees during your divorce.

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Rhode Island?

When you file an uncontested divorce in Rhode Island, your case is put on a “nominal track.” This means that your case will likely be resolved much faster than a case put on a contested track. The court clerk will schedule a nominal divorce hearing for 11 weeks from the date you file. (R.I. Fam. Ct. Admin. Ord. 2003-02.) As long as you and your spouse still agree on the terms of your divorce at the time of the nominal hearing, the court will confirm the statements you made in your complaint at the hearing, and you can move forward with finalizing the divorce. To finalize the divorce after the nominal hearing, you’ll need to submit a Decision Pending Entry and Final Judgment to the court. Your divorce isn’t final until the judge signs and enters these documents as an order.

How Can I Get More Help With Rhode Island Online Divorce?

Rhode Island 3StepDivorce™ provides unlimited, live, person-to-person support for customers. If you have any questions about how uncontested divorce works, call our Rhode Island Divorce Online Help Center at (888) 665-6782 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (Pacific Time).

Please keep in mind that we are not lawyers and so cannot give out legal advice. If you have questions about Rhode Island law or need legal advice, we recommend that you contact an experienced family law attorney in your area.

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