Warwick Divorce Lawyer
Carl P DeLuca, Esq
Talk to an experienced Warwick Divorce Lawyer. Divorce can be ugly. If it is, I’m on your side. And if there’s a peaceful path, I’ll find it for you. Let my 35 yrs of divorce experience work for you. Below is the basic information you need to know. When you’re ready, we’re ready. Contact us at our Warwick office for a Free Consultation.
“Our family felt really comfortable with the guidance we received from Carl. It was nice to feel confident in a difficult situation.” – Randy V.
An Experienced Warwick Divorce Lawyer
You need a divorce lawyer with experience and compassion. Attorney Carl P. DeLuca has been practicing in the Rhode Island family law courts for over 35 years, with offices in Warwick, Rhode Island. He knows that going through a divorce or separation can be a traumatic experience, even when husband and wife both agree it is for the best. The choice to seek marital dissolution is a profound one with profound implications, especially when children are involved.
We represent clients in both contested and uncontested divorces. At our law firm, our goal is to help you make the decisions that protect your legal rights and that are in the best interests of your family. Issues such as child custody, placement and visitation as well as child support are complex and sensitive. Whether you need a traditional custody and visitation arrangement where one parent has placement and the other gets visitation, or a more modern split-placement arrangement depends on the needs of you and your child or children. The child support guidelines are only a starting point in determining the appropriate child support and divorces get very complicated when issues such as alimony or spousal support come into play.
We help you make important decisions such as whether your case needs to go to trial or would benefit from mediation which could result in a settlement. An experienced divorce lawyer can’t make the experience pleasant, but he or she can make the process less disruptive and destructive to your life and the lives of your children.
Table of Contents
1. Grounds for Divorce In Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, most divorces are granted on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences can encompass all sorts of differences that may cause a breakdown of the marriage which is beyond repair. The other most common grounds for divorce are adultery, abuse and substance abuse. In order to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least one year. There are exceptions to this rule, for instance, in the case where one party is in the military, but lived in Rhode Island before they enlisted. Your divorce lawyer will let you know if you residency is an issue and whether there is a way around it if it is an issue.
2. Marital Assets
Marital assets and debts are generally divided equally, absent wrongdoing on the part of one of the spouses. (There are other considerations, as well, such as the length of the marriage) Marital assets and marital debts consist of property or debts acquired during the marriage, or acquired before the marriage, but given as a “gift” to the marriage by one spouse by placing the title of the property in the names of both spouses, or transferring it into the name of the other spouse. In addition, an increase in the value of the property (e.g., real estate, pensions plans, etc.) that was owned by one spouse before the marriage is a marital asset. For example, if a husband owned a house before his marriage that was worth $100,000.00 at the time of the marriage, and its value increased to $150,000.00 by the time of the divorce, the $50,000.00 increase in value would be considered a marital estate and the wife would be entitled to $25,000.00, absent other factors. One must not rely upon whose name a property stands in to determine whether or not that property belongs to the marriage or the individual. Contact us now to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer.
3. Alimony? Ask Your Warwick Divorce Lawyer
In Rhode Island, alimony is generally rehabilitative. This means that it may be granted to a spouse for a short, definite period of time, to a spouse who has been out of the job market to give the receiving spouse time to get the education or job training to get back into the job market. In some cases, the court may grant alimony for an indefinite period due to the age or health condition of the spouse, or some times even due to the malevolent behavior of the other spouse. Your divorce lawyer should be able to give you an idea of whether or not your are likely to receive or pay alimony.
4. Visitation and Custody
It is usual, in Rhode Island, for a couple to receive joint custody of their children, with physical placement with one of the parents, and some form of visitation with the other. Joint custody allows each parent a say in the upbringing of the children. It also allows each parent the authority, for instance, to authorize an emergency medical procedure, if necessary. It is possible, depending on the fitness of the parents, that sole custody may be awarded to one parent and no visitation, or modified visitation to the other. The issues of visitation and custody remain within the jurisdiction of the court even after a divorce, and the terms may be changed if the circumstances change. An experienced divorce lawyer knows the rules that apply to visitation and custody and knows what changes will justify a modification.
5. Child Support
The parent with the physical placement of the child or children must receive child support. This is not a right that may be waived by the spouse with placement, since child support is intended for the benefit of the child. Child support is calculated by a formula that Family Court divorce attorneys developed to take the guess work out of child support . The formula uses the gross incomes of the parties, with some mandatory (e.g., child related health insurance) and discretionary (day care costs) adjustments. The issue of child support also remains with the court and may change if circumstances change.
6. "Uncontested Divorce"
An “uncontested” hearing for divorce is one in which the parties are in agreement as to the terms of the divorce and the lawyers involved proceed with the case in a cooperative manner to present the facts and the agreement to the Family Court Judge. If you live in Kent County, your divorce will probably take place in the Kent County Family Court building in Warwick, Rhode Island. The parties, together with one or two witnesses, testify at the hearing. Usually, each party is questioned only by their own divorce lawyer. The attorney will ask them leading questions with the intention of explaining the parties’ agreement through testimony.
Two witnesses need to testify that at least one of the parties lived in Rhode Island for at least one year prior to when the complaint for divorce was filed. One witness needs to testify that they were aware of the fact that there were problems with the marriage. Often, the Family Court judge will allow one of the parties to testify as one of the witnesses, so it is only necessary to have one witness testify other than the parties themselves.
However, judges often do not require the testimony of anyone other than the parties themselves and so their lawyers will limit examination to the parties alone. While the parties may have to wait as long as a few hours for their case to be heard, the actual hearing may take only five to thirty minutes depending on its complexity.
7. "Contested Divorce" Requires a Divorce Lawyer"
A “contested” hearing for divorce occurs when the parties have at least one issue that they cannot resolve themselves, and it becomes necessary for lawyers to present their cases at a trial so the court may make the decisions. This hearing will be much more formal, may require many more witnesses, and may take anywhere from a half an hour to several weeks, even months. The hearing is much more contentious and your divorce lawyer will be called upon to properly present evidence and to effectively examine and cross examine witnesses.
Just because you end your divorce with an uncontested hearing, doesn’t necessarily mean that your divorce was uncontested. You may have had contested hearings for temporary orders pertaining to visitation, custody, contempt, etc., before you actually have your “uncontested” hearing. Therefore, if your fee agreement with your divorce lawyer (which should always be in writing) is dependent on whether or not your divorce is uncontested, be certain that you and your attorney are operating under the same definition of “uncontested.”
8. The Hearing and Divorce Decree
Whether a couple has a contested divorce or uncontested divorce, there must be a hearing or trial for the divorce to eventually become final. It is not possible for a couple to “just sign papers” to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island. If the case is contested, the case will be heard when the parties agree that the matter is ready for trial, or a court orders that the matter be set for trial. However, all matters are initially scheduled for an uncontested hearing within 90 days after the complaint for divorce is filed in the hopes that the matter can be resolved without a trial. After the hearing or trial, your divorce lawyer files an Interlocutory (temporary) Decree with the court which sets forth the findings of fact that the Family Court judge made, and the decision. After 90 days (with some exceptions) the Final Decree may be entered by your attorney. The couple remains married until the Final Decree is entered.
9. Do I Have to Hire a Divorce Lawyer?
You are not required to hire a divorce lawyer. You may represent yourself in a divorce, if you choose. However, it is not permissible in Rhode Island for a divorce lawyer to represent both parties in a divorce. Therefore, it is common for one party to represent themselves “pro se” and the other party to be represented by the attorney in cases where there is no contest and the issues are relatively simple.
With at least one divorce lawyer involved, the parties are reasonably assured of obtaining their divorce without running into problems because the correct forms were not filed or the required information was not presented to the judge.
Attorney DeLuca has been representing parties in the Rhode Island Family Court in Warwick and throughout the rest of the state for nearly 30 years. Contact us to arrange for your free consultation.
10. Divorce FAQS
- What is Sole Custody?
Sole Custody is when one parent has the authority to make all the decisions pertaining to the children, such as medical decision, schooling, etc. This is usually granted when one parent is “missing,” the parents cannot agree on anything, or there is a restraining order in favor of one parent against the other so they can’t discuss things, etc.
- What Is Joint Custody?
Joint Custody is when both parents have the authority to make decisions pertaining to the children, such as medical decision, schooling, etc. When there is Joint Custody and the parents disagree on an issue the parent with placement generally makes the decision but the parent without placement can petition the court to overrule.
- What is Placement vs Shared Placement?
Placement is where the children primarily reside. Shared placement is when the parents get equal or nearly equal time with the children. Shared placement happens more often now than it used to and does change the amount of child support paid by one parent to the other.
- What is Visitation?
Visitation is when the parent without placement gets to see the children. Typical visitation is every other weekend and 1 or 2 nights per week, but visitation is often different on a case-by-case basis depending on the scheduled of the children and the parents. Holidays, birthdays., vacations and school vacations need to be dealt with, too, and should be divided equally.
- What is Child Support?
Child support is support paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the children. It is calculated by putting the gross incomes of the parents into a formula and referencing a chart for child support that varies based on the gross income and number of children, though there are other factors considered, such as health insurance and day care expenses. One of the other things that is included in the formula is the cost of health insurance that exceeds the cost of health insurance to the parent. The parent paying child support doesn’t get credit for the things they buy the children such as clothes, etc. Child support is separate.
- Who Pays Child Support?
Generally, the parent that does not have placement pays child support to the parent that does have placement. However, in the case of shared placement, the parent with more income pays child support to the parent with less income, but in a lesser amount than they would pay if one had placement and the other had visitation.
- What About Other Child Care Expense?
Typically, other child care expenses are divided 50/50, though some of them may be divided pro rata to income. They generally include:
- Work related daycare.
- Uninsured health care costs
- Extracurricular activities.
8. Who Gets the Child Related Tax Credits, etc.
The parent with placement gets the child related tax credits, etc.
- How Are Assets Divided?
Property that was acquired during the marriage, such as savings, retirement funds, real estate are split 50/50. If there was a premarital value, for instance, when there was $100k in a $300K retirement fund prior to marriage, the premarital portion is not part of the marital estate.
- Who Pays Health Insurance?
If one spouse is covering the health insurance of the other spouse through their employment RI law requires that that coverage continue as long as it is allowed by the company, and it is unavailable through their own employment. If it’s an out of state-owned company that may only be until the final decree is entered. If there is an extra cost to cover the spouse that is not the employee, that spouse has to reimburse that amount to the spouse whose employer is providing the insurance.
- What is Alimony?
Alimony is support paid from one spouse who has sufficient income to do so to the other spouse if that spouse can show need and entitlement. It doesn’t apply in most cases and when it does it is almost always “remedial” and temporary. However, there are still instances, such as one spouse is disabled, where alimony may be “permanent.”
(The above applies specifically to Rhode Island law. However, this information is not intended as a substitute for legal advice, even in Rhode Island, and you should not make any decisions based upon it. For information on the applicable law of your state, please contact us directly for a consultation in our Warwick, Rhode Island office. If you prefer, we may be able to arrange for a telephone consultation.