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Rhode Island Divorce Definitions

This collection of definitions will help clarify some unique characteristics to the Rhode Island Divorce laws, process and paperwork which is filed with the court.

Filing Party Title:
Plaintiff

The spouse who will initiate the Divorce by filing the required paperwork with the court.

Non-Filing Party Title:
Defendant

The spouse who does not initiate the Divorce with the court.

Court Name:
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Family Court, __________ Division

The proper name of the court in which a Divorce is filed in the state of Rhode Island. Each jurisdictional court typically has a domestic relations or a family law department or division.

Child Support Enforcement Website:
http://www.childsupportliens.com/RI/index.html

The state run office devoted to enforcing existing child support orders and collecting any past due child support.

Document Introduction:
In Re the Marriage of:

The lead-in verbiage used in the legal caption or header of the documents filed with the court. The introduction typically prefaces both spouse’s names.

Initial Divorce Document:
Complaint for Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will initiate the Rhode Island Divorce process. The filing spouse is also required to provide the non-filing spouse a copy of this document.

Final Divorce Document:
Judgment of Divorce

The title and name of the legal document that will finalize the Rhode Island Divorce process. This document will be signed by the judge, master, or referee of the court to declare your marriage officially terminated.

Clerk’s Office Name:
County Clerk’s Office of the Family Court

The office of the clerk that will facilitate the Divorce process. This is the title you would address letters to or ask for when contacting the courthouse.

Legal Separation:

Legal separation (or divorce from bed and board) may be granted for the same grounds as that required for a divorce. The spouse seeking legal separation must have been a resident for a period of time that the court deems proper. [General Laws of Rhode Island; Title 15, Chapters 15-5-1, 15-5-2, 15-5-3, 15-5-5, and 15-5-9 and Rhode Island Case Law].

Property Distribution:
Equitable Distribution

The applicable Rhode Island law that will dictate how property and debt is to be divided upon Divorce.