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Rhode Island Court Records

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How to File for Divorce in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, individuals can file for divorce in an attempt to legally dissolve their marriage. The state court requires sufficient grounds for divorce under the state laws to grant a divorce decree. Complaints about divorce can only be considered if either of the couples permanently resides in the state or for at least a year before the divorce filing. The timeframe for a contested divorce is usually shorter than for an uncontested divorce.

Do I need a Reason for Divorce in Rhode Island?

Typically, the Rhode Island laws allow the court to grant a divorce based on a no-fault ground. This means that the marriage is legally terminated due to irreconcilable differences, or the couple does not reside together following a separation between them, of three years or more. However, Section 15–5–2 provides additional reasons that persons could file for a divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Deliberate abandonment of up to five years or as decided by the court
  • Impotency
  • Severe cruelty towards a spouse
  • Habitual abuse of drugs including opium and morphine
  • Wilful refusal to provide necessities for the spouse
  • Any form of misconduct that violates the marriage covenant.

The court requires any of these as sufficient grounds to grant a decree of divorce. However, in a situation where there is unverified testimony of the complainant, the court may still decide to grant the divorce on such testimony if it deems it satisfactory enough, following Section 15–5–5.

The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.

Why do I need a Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce lawyers can help out simplify the divorce process. With their understanding of the state’s divorce statute, lawyers can come up with approaches for divorce proceedings and represent parties at the court hearings.

How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Rhode Island?

Interested individuals can begin a divorce case by completing and filing a complaint form and other required documents, including a copy of the marriage certificate and the divorce report. Complainants can get all necessary forms at the clerk of court’s office. Following Section 15–5–13, complaints are to be filed in the county courthouse where the plaintiff resides. Filing fees may apply.

Upon successfully filling the divorce forms, complainants will receive a docket number and court date from the clerk. The defendant is served copies of the divorce filing and must reply with an answer. Plaintiffs are responsible for serving the defendants with copies of the filing. They can visit the Sheriff’s Office within the area that the defendant resides and pay the required service fee. Defendants may also file a counterclaim with the clerk and send copies to the plaintiff or their legal representative.

How to File for Divorce in Rhode Island Without a Lawyer?

Rhode Island permits pro se representation in divorce cases. Interested persons can file for divorce without using a lawyer and they can also legally represent themselves in all hearings concerning the divorce proceedings. However, the court requires such individuals to file for divorce according to the regular procedures and they cannot receive assistance from the clerk.

Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.

How Does Rhode Island Divorce Mediation Work?

Rhode Island divorce mediation is a program that the Family Court offers to assist both parties to reach an agreement about the terms of their divorce. Usually, the court can order the couple to participate in a mediation program if it concerns the issues of child custody and visitation. Court-mandated mediation programs may occur prior to the trial period. The trial may proceed only if the mediation program fails to provide a resolution between the parties.

How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Rhode Island?

After a successful mediation program that the parties reached a settlement, the court will schedule a hearing to finalize the terms agreed. However, failure of the mediation to yield a resolution will continue the divorce proceedings in court and this may take time.

Are Divorce Records Public in Rhode Island?

Divorce records in Rhode Island are available for inspection to members of the general public. Following the Rhode Island public records law, members of the general public can request non-confidential divorce records from their custodians. Information such as a party’s financial accounts and the names of minors are restricted from public view and only the subject of the record and other eligible persons can access them.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Get Rhode Island Divorce Records?

Persons looking to obtain divorce records in Rhode Island can request them from the clerk’s office where the court proceedings occured. Requestors can visit the clerk’s office in-person to process their requests or put them in writing and send it via U.S mail. The clerk may request some information concerning the record to facilitate the search. Charges for copying records may also apply.

Online access to divorce records is available on the court’s Public Portal. Users can utilize the Smart Search feature to search divorce records by the case number or name of the parties involved. Information on court hearings is also available by using the search tool to select the court location and hearing type. Users can search for court hearings by the case name, party name, and attorney’s details.

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