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What is a Pleading in a Rhode Island Divorce Case?

When you are filing for divorce, you may encounter some unfamiliar legal terms. Laypeople often find themselves confused about certain terminology, such as the word “pleading.” A pleading is a formal written statement that initiates a legal case and establishes the issues that must be decided by the court. If you are planning on filing for divorce, Providence divorce attorneys can help you file the initial pleading.

Pleadings typically come in the form of a complaint or an answer.

The complaint is filed by the plaintiff. In a divorce case, the complaint states your intent to file for divorce. In Rhode Island, you must file a divorce complaint with the family court clerk, in addition to a DR6, two statements listing the children of the divorce, a family services counseling report form, a report of divorce, a copy of the marriage certificate, the summons and the filing fee. You must then serve your spouse with a summons, copy of the complaint and an informational packet. Your spouse then becomes the defendant.

When your spouse has been served, he or she must answer the complaint and file a counterclaim. This means that the defendant either affirms or denies the statements made in the plaintiff’s complaint. This happens in a written legal document. The defendant must file the answer, counterclaim, DR6 and entry of appearance with the clerk. Then, the defendant must send a copy over to your Rhode Island divorce lawyer.

Pleadings are different from motions. A motion is an application to the court for relief, such as a motion to dismiss or a motion for continuance. In general terms, a motion asks the court to make a decision about an aspect of the case. The court speaks through formal pleadings, motions and other types of requests. All formal and written statements leave a paper trail, so there is official documentation of the proceedings.

When filing for divorce, never try to do it alone. Kirshenbaum Law Associates is a full-service family law firm, dedicated to helping you every step of the way.