Legal Separation

Legal Separation in Rhode Island.

Many people ask about the requirement for a legal separation. Some states around Rhode Island require a period of physical separation, but Rhode Island does not have that requirement. (It does require a mandatory waiting period of 3 months – see the divorce process in Rhode Island.

So strictly speaking, there is no such thing as “legal separation” in Rhode Island. But in a practical sense there is a period of time after you have decided to get divorced but before your divorce is final that can be considered a separation period. During this time, there are three things you may do:

  • You can just stop living together, without a court order specifying things like the division of property, who pays the bills or a parenting plan. While this is the cheapest, easiest option, it offers you no protection should something go wrong.
  • You can file a miscellaneous petition with the court asking a judge to issue a consent order specifying who gets what property, who pays which expenses and child custody and child support WITHOUT starting a divorce proceeding.
  • You can file a petition for divorce along with a motion for a temporary order on property division and custody, etc. The judge’s temporary order will be in effect until the divorce is final.

The Benefits of a Temporary Order.

You and your partner may have separated without any hurt feelings. The two of you may have agreed to who will pay which bills, who lives in the house and how to split parenting time. But without a court order, there’s nothing you can do to make the other person live up to that agreement. Your agreement is not enforceable in court and the police can’t intervene.

If you want to be able to enforce an agreement with your former partner or your child’s parent, you need a temporary order (until your divorce is finalized) or a consent order. At Hoopis & Hoopis, divorce lawyer Jennifer Hoopis D’Ambra can help you obtain a temporary order or a consent order.

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