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Can I Resolve My Divorce Without Going to Court?

In Rhode Island, you must attend a minimum of one court hearing when filing for divorce. However, during an uncontested divorce, you might only need to attend that first hearing. To begin the process, submit a complaint and all the appropriate documentation to the family court clerk. Have a Providence family law lawyer assist you with this process. Then, the clerk gives you a first court date, also known as a nominal date.

Before going to court, the parties may choose a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to settle all aspects of the divorce. You can use mediation, arbitration or simple negotiations between attorneys to settle on the divorce terms. ADR is less expensive, faster and allows parties more control over the proceedings than a trial. Most importantly, ADR gives the parties control over the outcome of the proceedings.

If the parties agree on all aspects of the divorce by the first court hearing — including custody, asset distribution and alimony — they can have a “nominal” divorce. The plaintiff testifies first during the nominal hearing and the defendant affirms what the plaintiff has said. The judge then grants the divorce. Your Rhode Island divorce attorney helps you finish the proceedings to make sure the divorce is finalized.

If the parties have no agreement by the nominal court hearing, the case moves to the contested track. From there, you are assigned a case management date. If you do not agree by the case management date, you are assigned a pretrial date. Up until the trial date, you can still receive a nominal divorce. Trials are lengthy, expensive and give the parties little control over the proceedings.

If you plan on filing for divorce, speak to Kirshenbaum Law Associates first. It is never advisable to try to divorce without an attorney’s assistance. You may make a mistake that can negatively affect your case.