Knowing all possible legal scenarios is a must if a couple wants to end their marriage and consider filing for divorce. In Rhode Island, these scenarios include contested and uncontested divorce.

In this article, we’ll discuss each type of divorce proceeding in more detail for you to understand the difference. It can also help you determine the most suitable option for your case.

Contested Divorce in Rhode Island

A contested divorce is a type of divorce process where spouses participate in a series of court sessions to resolve their marital disputes. 

During these hearings, the petitioner and respondent, together with their lawyers, express their positions to the judge. They provide arguments and evidence to support their requests. The judge listens to every party and decides according to Rhode Island law.

What Kind of Disputes Can Arise?

The essence and number of disputes are individual since each couple may have different family circumstances. However, in general, there are 4 main things that spouses try to resolve:

  • Property division;
  • Alimony;
  • Child custody;
  • Child support.

Let’s take a closer look at each point.


Property division

Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. It means that all marital property must be divided fairly, which it’s not always 50/50.

Marital property includes everything spouses acquire during the marriage: houses, apartments, cars, deposits, businesses, etc. However, joint debts and financial obligations must also be divided following local Family Law. 

When dividing assets, the judge will consider each spouse’s contribution to acquiring a particular property, marriage length, spouses’ state of health and age, their behavior in marriage and during divorce, their working capacity, etc.


Alimony, or spousal support, is a payment that a solvent spouse pays to an insolvent one to help them live comfortably. It can be paid in a lump sum or monthly payments.

The judge may award alimony to one of the spouses after considering:

  • The extent to which either side can’t provide for themselves;
  • Time and expenses required for the supported spouse to get appropriate education and training;
  • Standard of living during the marriage;
  • Marriage duration;
  • Spouses’ employment opportunities; etc.

Child Custody

In child custody matters, Rhode Island courts are guided by the child’s interests. However, the non-custodial parent should get a reasonable visitation schedule if it doesn’t harm the child.

The court will also consider cases of domestic violence in the marriage. In domestic violence cases, the visits must be organized to protect the abused child or parent.

Child Support

The custodial parent can also claim child support. Payments may continue until the child reaches the age of 18.

When awarding alimony, the judge considers the child’s needs, the child’s standard of living while parents were married, parents’ financial resources, etc. Calculation of child support in Rhode Island is based on both parents’ income and child-related expenses.

Why Couples Choose Contested Divorce

It would be misleading to say that some couples CHOOSE a contested divorce because it has benefits. Most often, they HAVE TO go this path.

Some spouses hide property and assets from each other, affecting the fairness of the property division and spousal support allocation. If the spouses don’t trust each other, they should initiate a contested divorce. Then, each side must disclose all their assets for the judge to make a fair decision.

In addition, abuse, violent behavior, drug addiction, alcoholism, and other fault-based grounds for divorce can lead to a contested procedure. In such a situation, the spouses’ attempts to resolve issues independently rarely end successfully.

Couples can also choose a contested divorce if they are unaware of other options, such as an uncontested divorce.

Uncontested Divorce in Rhode Island

An uncontested divorce assumes that both spouses agree to dissolve their marriage and have reached a consensus regarding all critical aspects of their breakup.

Spouses also must resolve issues related to child custody, division of property and assets, alimony and child support, etc. But the difference is that in a contested divorce, they resolve these matters after filing documents with the court and with the help of a lawyer and a judge. In contrast, in an uncontested divorce, spouses can do it before filing and in a way convenient for them.

Couples can resolve their family disputes independently, without an attorney or other specialists. They negotiate and try to find a solution that would satisfy both parties. They can also hire a mediator who listens to each side and offers the best solution.

The first option doesn’t involve any spending at all. But hiring a mediator will cost money. However, in most cases, it can be cheaper than hiring attorneys to represent each parties’ interests in a contested divorce.

Why Couples Choose an Uncontested Divorce

The primary reason couples choose an uncontested divorce is that they are often more affordable and relatively quick. Firstly, spouses don’t need to spend money on lawyers, saving thousands of dollars in legal fees. Secondly, they can avoid lengthy litigation.

The process can be further accelerated if spouses choose no-fault reasons to initiate divorce. In Rhode Island, spouses can state irretrievable breakdown caused by irreconcilable differences as a ground for dissolution of marriage. Unlike fault reasons, spouses don’t need to provide any evidence. Accordingly, the court won’t waste time reviewing it.

Another reason for choosing an uncontested divorce is an opportunity to use online divorce. It’s important to note here that the terms “online divorce,” “Internet divorce,” or “web divorce” only refer to preparing an application for divorce online, using special online platforms. Getting a divorce over the Internet in Rhode Island is impossible since only the judge can grant it.

Preparing divorce papers online has many benefits. For instance, spouses can select and complete all the necessary paperwork from the comfort of their home at their own pace. They don’t need to be experts in legal terminology, as online platforms provide questionnaires written in easy-to-understand language. And of course, these divorce companies don’t charge all the money in the world.


Now that you know the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce in Rhode Island, you can make a more informed decision on how to proceed with your case.

If you and your spouse are willing to cooperate and want to separate amicably, an uncontested divorce can become the right option for you. Combined with a reliable online divorce platform to prepare your forms, you can take a step towards your new life without unnecessary hassle and expenses.

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