Rhode Island Divorce Procedures

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Divorce is a life-altering event which leaves its impressions on many aspects of life. Life after divorce may not be desirable all the times. But to ensure that you have a smooth life you must take some major steps. Making some research study on the basics of this process of your state is a wise decision. For example, if you are residing and filing for a case in Rhode Island, you should be aware of the Rhode Island divorce procedures that you must go through. By doing this you can be assured that your lawyer is fighting your case in the right way. Not only this, you make yourself free of any legal burden that may affect your life after the divorce.

A brief highlight of the varied divorce processes in Rhode Island is provided here:

Divorce through Nominal track or Contested track

In this state, when a case is filed, it may be assigned the nominal track or the contested track. The Plaintiff has to designate the track of his or her desire. It has been noted that a majority of divorces are opted for the nominal track. When the nominal track is chosen, it does not mean that the process is compulsorily uncontested, but that the Plaintiff desires that the case must be settled relatively quickly or believes that it can be settled relatively quickly.

Rhode Island Divorce Procedure regarding Answer

The Defendant is allocated 20 days from the date of service to file an Answer to the Petition. The date on which the Answer is filed should never be after any motion date or the nominal court date. If the Defendant fails to file an Answer within the stipulated period, it is considered as a default. In such circumstances, the Plaintiff is offered all the relief that was requested.

Rhode Island Divorce Procedure regarding Discovery

Discovery is defined as a procedure during which the divorcing parties get admissions or information from the opposite party. The significance of this procedure becomes obvious when the divorcing partners do not have sufficient data regarding the nature and extent of the estate and marital property of the other partner.

There are many discovery methods as detailed below:

Subpoena Duces Tecum

This is an efficient method to procure documents from third parties. The documents can be anything like wage records, employment records, stock records, bank records etc.

Request for Production of Documents

A roster of requested documents is prepared and a time period is satisfied within which a Response to the list must be provided. Some of the documents that may be demanded are as follows:

  • Real estate documents
  • Bank statements
  • Estate Planning documents
  • Stock accounts
  • Health insurance records
  • Wage documents
  • Employment documents
  • Retirement accounts
  • 401K records
  • Pension plan documents


Deposition means that one divorcing party in the presence of a court reporter asks the opposite party some questions through a lawyer that have to be answered under oath. The Family Courts in this state have a rule according to which, one divorcing party must take permission of the court or leave of court to execute a deposition.

This procedure is very exorbitant due to the following reasons:

  • The attorney usually needs several hours to prepare the questions and the attorney charges for all this time
  • Attorneys of both the parties must compulsorily attend the deposition and both of them charge for the complete duration of the deposition
  • The transcript produced by the court reporters generally costs several hundred dollars


These are written questions that may be sent from one party to the other. As per the statute in this state, every side is permitted 32 interrogatories. These questions may be related to mental health history, valuation of assets, criminal history, restraining orders, domestic violence pertaining orders, personal injury claims, estate planning and trust issues, real estate issues, health insurance claims, alimony, gambling addiction, etc.

Procedures regarding changing of name

According to R.I. General Laws Title 15 Domestic Relations- Divorce and Separation under Section 15-5-17, a woman can restore her maiden name, if she wants to.

Duration of Divorce Processes

Spouses considering a divorce in Rhode Island must be curious about knowing the duration of the relevant procedures. If you choose a contested process, it might last between six months to one year or more depending on whether the issues are resolved in the pretrial stage or not. When it is an uncontested case, it may last between five to seven months.

We are sure that you will have a lot more queries after reading the above mentioned information. If you want to know more about state laws, you may read R.I.G.L. 15-5. With this knowledge, get prepared to undergo Rhode Island divorce procedures once you file for a case.

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