I’ve been served divorce papers. So what do I do now?
As with nearly all major events of life, there are specific steps to follow in order to complete a divorce in Rhode Island. So, whether you are just seeking a “no-fault” divorce, citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or seeking a contested dissolution for other reasons, the course of events tends to follow a complicated but certain routine.
First, the proceedings begin with one spouse engaging an attorney to review all possible issues. This also includes whether the couple is even eligible to divorce under the law. Once you make the determination, you will then draft the appropriate legal documents and file them with the court. Next, you must then legally serve the papers to the other spouse. That spouse then faces the need to respond.
Steps in response when served divorce papers
State laws vary on what’s required in response after you’ve been served divorce papers. In Rhode Island, the deadline is usually about 20 days, and the response should include:
- Acknowledgment of document service
- And a statement of your agreement or disagreement with the complaint
Also, the response should make your position clear on the statements made in the original petition. It should also reflect your view on the proposals made regarding such things as property division and spousal support.
If children are a factor, the response should speak to the issues of custody and visitation. For example, if the initial petition calls for the petitioner to have sole physical custody, you might find it important to ask for joint custody. You will want to detail the reasons that support the use of that model. However, it’s important to always keep in mind that the courts will consider such matters in the context of what it considers the best interests of the child.
Failing to respond after being served divorce papers
If you don’t respond at all, the courts may then rule that grounds are sufficient to grant your spouse a no-fault divorce.
Divorce by its very nature is complicated financially, emotionally, and legally. Navigating the process, as a result, is easier with experienced counsel at your side.