In Rhode Island the divorce process can be on either a nominal track, or a contested track.
A nominal divorce is one in which the parties have agreed to the major issues in the divorce or are amicable enough to come to an agreement without the intervention of a judge. Once filed, a hearing on a nominal divorce is held within 2 ½ months. Within 30-days of the hearing, the parties file a Decision Pending Final Judgment. 90-days after the filing of the Decision Pending Final Judgment, a Final Judgment is filed. Once the Final Judgment is approved by the Court, the divorce is final.
The nominal process is more affordable than a contested track divorce and resolves the matter quickly.
A contested divorce can take much longer. While the court is tasked with moving cases along in an efficient manner, a contested divorce can take over a year to work its way to completion. The longer and more contentious the process, the more cost is incurred.
Massachusetts has a similar process. An uncontested divorce tends to mirror a nominal divorce taking 90-120 days to complete. In contested matters, the process can take over a year as it does in Rhode Island.
In both Rhode Island and Massachusetts child support is based upon the income of the parties, the number of children of the marriage, prior support orders (if any) as well as the amount of time the children spend with the parents. The child support guidelines in each state provide guidance to the court in setting the appropriate amount of support. The court will always consider the best interest of the child in any support, custody, or visitation matter.
Rhode Island General Law § 15-5-16 delineates the factors a judge considers when determining an award of alimony. Bottom of Form “Alimony is a rehabilitative tool intended to provide temporary support until a spouse is self-sufficient and is based purely on need.” While the amount and duration can always be negotiated, the court will evaluate several factors, including but not limited to, the health, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, and employability of the parties. In general, if both parties are of similar age and are employed earning similar incomes, no alimony will be awarded. In cases where one spouse left the workforce for a few years to raise the family the court is likely to award alimony to the non-working spouse.
Because there are many factors that comprise the granting or denial of an alimony award, it is important to have experienced legal counsel to guide you.
That all depends on you. A mediation will cost somewhere around $2,500. An uncontested or nominal divorce may cost between $3,000 and $4,500. A contested divorce really has no limit because every case is different. Some cases have legal fees that exceed $100,000.
It is always important to discuss costs up front. It makes no economic sense to spend $20,000 or more on attorney’s fees if the entire marital estate is only worth $50,000. Often, clients have such distain for their spouses that they may not think about costs. Its important to have a clear understanding of the value of the estate and the likelihood of obtaining a greater share than 50%.
The martial home is part of the marital estate and must be equitably divided. Often, one spouse will buy-out the other and remain in the home. The equitable share can be negotiated and traded for more of less of another asset. In short, there is a determination of the equity in the home and that equity is added to the value of the estate. With children involved, many clients seek to delay a transfer of the home until such time as the kids graduate high school. This is a reason why clients need an experienced attorney to discuss their options.
The retirement assets are counted a part of the marital estate. As with the marital home, the distribution of the retirement assets can be negotiated.
You can represent yourself in any legal proceeding. However, divorce is unique. There is an emotional component to every case. Often, this desire to “win” or the lack of trust with your soon to be ex, necessitates a third party intervening and ensuring that you obtain a fair and just result. Regardless of your decision to proceed with counsel, our office offers a free 30-minute consultation to evaluate your case.
At Shapiro Dorry Masterson LLC, in Providence, we represent divorcing spouses throughout New England. Call us at 401-400-5985 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a qualified family law attorney.