Navigating Rough Waters – Divorce Process and Strategy – From Filing to Trial!

This is the second installment of a two-part series about what is the Rhode Island divorce process, including divorce strategies. Part one covers the beginning stages of divorce, from finding the right Rhode Island Attorney to filing for divorce. Click here for the first installment of the series.

This article provides information on divorce strategies and the divorce process following divorce filing. This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. It is a bad option for someone to take on the role of a Rhode Island divorce without a lawyer.

Nominal or Contested Track

If the Rhode Island divorce is filed, the case is placed on any of two tracks: the one that is contested or the official track. In their divorce petition, the Plaintiff chooses which track they wish to use. Most divorces filed within Rhode Island are placed on the”nominal divorce track. The designation of”the “nominal track” does not necessarily indicate that the divorce is uncontested. It generally indicates that the person who filed believes the divorce can be settled in a short time or wishes for the divorce to be finalized fairly quickly.

Answer to Divorce Complaint

The defendant has to respond for divorce in the first 20 days of the service date and must file it no later than the court’s nominal date or any other motion date. If the defendant does not respond to the matter, he could be at risk of being defaulted. The term “default” refers to the situation where the defendant fails to respond to the case at an appropriate time, and the Plaintiff typically gets all the relief they seek.

Nominal divorce

If the case falls on the nominal track, the clerk will set the hearing for a nominal divorce upon a Plaintiff seeking a divorce. The hearing is typically scheduled between 65-70 days following the date the Plaintiff is filed. If the divorce cannot be completed by the original divorce date, the case will automatically be transferred to the contested track.

If the case is not resolved by the court’s nominal date and both parties are willing to work towards resolving any remaining disputes in the courtroom and think it is feasible to settle any remaining issues and the parties can seek to settle the issue in the conference rooms or hallways at the courthouse. They can then move the case before the court as an uncontested divorce with no formal proceedings at the time of the date.

If the defendant has not submitted an answer or filed an answer to the complaint, it is risky for the defendant not to show up in court on the court’s scheduled date in light of statements made by the other party.

There have been many instances where a spouse has reassured the other that it is not required to appear in court and that there is no need to submit an answer. In these instances, the defendant defaults, and the spouse who defaults receives 100% of the assets from the marriage.

When the date is set for the hearing on the nominal divorce according to the time of the calendar, the case will be in the process of being ready for nominal hearings, or the parties will request the judge to stay the case in order to attempt to settle the remaining issues. If the parties cannot solve the remaining issues, they will notice the Court clerk or judge that their case cannot be resolved, which means the court track must be switched to the contested divorce track. scheduled for date.

If the parties want the clerk to keep the case, they typically are granted a significant length of time during which they can discuss any other issues in the hall. After settling all other family-related issues, which could include child support, property division, and child custody visitation, as well as contempt, alimony, or restraining order matters, the clerk will know that the matter is ready for the nominal hearing. The judge and clerk will place your name on the list of cases ready for nominal hearing.

Following Rhode Island General Law, a divorce cannot be settled without a formal divorce hearing. The hearing is a nominal divorce. The testimony of witnesses must be obtained to enable the decree to grant a divorce. In certain situations, witnesses need to provide testimony. If you do not have the necessary witness, your case may be delayed or even dismissed, and you will be wasting time in court.

Most Rhode Island divorce and family lawyers have conducted this tinny hearing hundreds of times. It is a bad decision for someone to be a self-represented party in divorce! According to the old saying, the person who represents themselves is the appearance of a fool when it comes to a lawyer. Since everything you have put your heart and soul into is at stake, it is a mistake to undergo your Rhode Island divorce process without a Rhode Island divorce and family law attorney.

If the matter was initially put on the calendar for contested tracks in the first instance, the clerk could not set any legal court date. If the case becomes settled, the parties can seek permission from the clerk to appear on a certain date to hear the divorce proceedings nominally. If not, the parties could attend an appointment or pretrial date for the formal divorce hearing.

Discovery in RI Divorce

Once the divorce has been filed, after the divorce is filed, the Plaintiff or the defendant may, at their discretion, pursue “discovery.” The term “discovery” generally refers to the process through which parties obtain information or admittances from the other side. It is crucial and possibly essential in cases where the spouse is unaware of the size and nature of marital property and estate. It can also be useful to get documents or any tangible evidence required to settle or court.

A Rhode Island discovery process is also a method to get the admission of certain accusations. Although it is illegal and maybe even morally wrong to deny the cheating or an affair to their spouse, it is not legal or even criminal for someone who lies to their spouse regarding the affair. If a person is lying under oath, either in the testimony or in writing a statement, they could be guilty of perjury.

Suppose a judge is convinced that the defendant has committed a lie under oath. In that case, there could be severe penalties, including a recommendation to the Attorney General to be prosecuted. In reality, most instances involving lying at family courts are not considered crimes to be prosecuted. Attorneys often request admissions or even interrogatories to oblige the other party to affirm under oath that they did participate in an affair, as well as the amount and specifics regarding the extramarital affair or cheating.

There are various ways to discover the mechanisms that could be utilized: interrogatories demand documents to be produced and admission requests depositions, subpoena duces tecum, or subpoenas.


Interrogatories are questions written in a form that a person can send to the opposition. Each party is entitled to a maximum of 32 requests for interrogatories. Interrogators can help obtain the list of assets, any allegations your spouse will make, or other useful information. The information sought can span from the issue of child support to infidelity between spouses. It could include child custody issues and child visitation issues as well as alcohol and drug addiction, gambling and the issue of alimony, health insurance, real estate concerns, trusts, and estate planning, including personal injury lawsuits, domestic violence/restraining orders, criminal records and the valuation of assets, mental health history, and other Rhode Island family law issues.

Interrogatories should be responded to within the timeframe set by the Rhode island’s local Court Rules. Most interrogatories are written and then scrutinized by your husband’s or your wife’s lawyer. Thus, even though they are a helpful instrument, there are limitations to the use of the information gathered.

Request for Admissions

If properly used is a potent discovery tool in the course of a RI divorce. Requests for admissions are usually written and made by an attorney, which the other party is required to respond to within a brief period. The allegation is deemed admissible if the other party fails to respond to the admissions request within the time limit.


Depositions are where a party, typically through their lawyer, questions their spouse under oath before an official court reporter. The court reporter in Rhode Island Family Court, parties must seek permission or leave of court from the court to conduct a deposition. Family Court Judges almost always grant motions for depositions of another party. Depositions are extremely expensive, but they can be powerful tools for discovery. Depositions are typically efficient because the attorney can ask questions to the opposing party in person. The attorney can pose follow-up questions and pose questions in a variety of ways. This is especially effective when an individual is not forthcoming or is not being open. There is nothing an attorney other than their own to assist their clients in answering the questions at the deposition.

Depositions can be very costly as the Court reporter’s transcript could cost hundreds of dollars. Additionally, the attorney conducting the deposition could require some time to prepare for the deposition. Both attorneys must also be present at the deposition, which can take many hours. Depositions are typically better for obtaining information on sensitive topics than interrogatories.

Request for Production of Documents

Documents to be produced include a listing of documents that must be responded to within the specified period. I have found this tool to be extremely effective in the search for documents and records regarding pension plans, 401k documents and retirement accounts, documents of employment, wage documents, as well as health insurance records. Documents for estate planning and real estate documents, bank statements, etc.


The Subpoena Duces Tecum is extremely efficient in procuring documents from third parties such as bank records, stock records, wage and employment records, and various other papers.

The third and final part of this series, which will be released shortly, will cover the preparation for the Divorce trial, from an actual trial until the entry of the Final Judgment.

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