File for Divorce in Washington County, Rhode Island (RI) | Divorce in Washington County

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Online Divorce in Washington County

divorce in Washington County

Please note: in Washington County, Rhode Island, is a divorce document preparation service, not a law firm. Online Divorce is not eligible to provide legal advice. All the information below is for informational purposes only.

If you wish to end your marriage as inexpensive as possible and as fast as a legal process in Washington County allows, we recommend an online divorce. Although Rhode Island has not yet approved e-filing, online document preparation is possible and very convenient. Sitting at your computer, you can carefully follow written instructions and look up local rules and any terms from Family Law unfamiliar to you.

If both parties agree, they can have a divorce the fastest and easiest way possible. Divorce gets complicated and expensive if divorcing spouses contest each terms of the divorce. In turn, if spouses are having no contest, the length of divorce process can get significantly shorter and legal fees radically cheaper, if any at all. asserts that those who are having an uncontested divorce can do it without legal representation. will provide you with completed divorce documents as soon as you fill out a questionnaire on our website about your family situation. offers packets of printable forms for uncontested divorce cases, whether you're pursuing divorce with minor children or without.

As soon as your divorce paperwork is completed, you will need to bring it to a local courthouse in Washington County, if either you or your spouse lives there and submit it to the court’s clerk. All steps of a filing process are explained in an OnlineDivorce guide on a Do-It-Yourself divorce. If any adjustments or corrections are needed, you can access your online divorce forms at no additional charge.
Besides, you are not left alone with your papers, being unsure what to do next. In addition to state-specific forms, provides divorcing couples with written instructions on how to file and what steps to take in the divorce process.

The goal of is to assist divorcing spouses in DIY divorces. Start your own divorce in Washington County by completing and filing their paperwork with Prepare your divorce documents online without a lawyer and initiate your divorce right now.

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Valid grounds to get divorce in Washington County

Rhode Island flag

Any US court requires divorcing spouses to state a “ground,” or legal reason, for the divorce. In Rhode Island, there are both no-fault grounds and fault-based grounds for divorce.

For an uncontested divorce, it is enough to cite either (1) “irreconcilable differences” which have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage, or (2) separation where “the parties have been living separate and apart for at least 3 years” (See R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-3.1 - Divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences. & R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-3 - Separation of parties as ground for dissolution).

Fault-based grounds are used in contested divorces. They include impotence, adultery, extreme cruelty, 5-year abandonment, continued alcoholism or drug addiction, the husband’s refusal to provide for the wife for one year while being able to do so, and “gross misbehavior and wickedness” on the part of either spouse (See RI Gen L § 15-5-2 (2012)).

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Custody of the child in Washington County

Custody of the child in Washington County

Throughout divorce proceedings, parents must decide how they share their parental responsibilities. Child-related arrangements include the child’s physical placement (where he or she is going to live) and legal custody (decisions regarding where the child goes to school, which religions he or she practices, medical emergencies, etc.).

The easiest way to handle child custody in Washington County is for the parents to reach an agreement and memorialize it in a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a detailed description of how the parents split physical placement and decision-making, including vacations and holidays, commute and travel schedules, etc. The consensus is that it is beneficial for children to retain as much communication with each parent as possible so that the divorce implications could be less tangible.

Thus, both parents and the court see joint custody as the best variant that meets the child’s best interests. Parents can agree on a 30/70 schedule (where the non-custodial parents have the child stay over less than 118 days a year) or a 50/50 schedule (where parents split physical placement almost equally).

When parents submit a parenting plan, the judge carefully reviews it, keeping an eye on meeting the child’s best interests. The judge can suggest amendments to the parenting plan if he or she sees it will better meet the child’s best interests. If parents cannot agree on custody, the court orders mediation or decides child custody for the parents.

According to RI Gen L § 15-5-16, the court determines custody after carefully studying each parent’s and the child’s circumstances and relevant factors. The judge will look into each parent’s willingness and capacity to take care of the child, their age, health, employability, and moral fitness. It is also crucial to examine whether the child has established relationships with each parent and siblings, if any, and expresses preferences to living and communicating with a particular parent. The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community and the child's home environment’s stability is also considered.

Unless a Washington County court notices any risk to the child’s physical or mental health from either parent, neither parent’s gender nor financial status can prevent the judge from making a just and fair custody determination.

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Rules for child support in Washington County

The calculation of child support for each parent depends on custody determination and the parents’ incomes. Typically, the non-custodial parent pays monthly child support payments. In contrast, the custodial parent covers their share by providing the child with a residence and other daily expenses. However, the non-custodial parent may be a higher-earning one. Therefore, many states use formulas to come up with a child support amount where both parents’ incomes are combined to sustain a standard of living common for the parents before the breakage of the marriage.

Rhode Island uses the Income Shares Method, which calculates child support based on parents’ incomes and the custody split. To ensure that a child support determination in Washington County fits both the child’s best interests and the parents’ financial and other relevant factors, the provisions of RI Gen. L § 15-5-16.2 - Child support require the court to consider:

  • (1) The financial resources of the child;
  • (2) The financial resources of the custodial parent;
  • (3) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
  • (4) The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs; and
  • (5) The financial resources and obligations of the non-custodial parent.

Any other factors – such as extraordinary medical care costs or college education costs – are considered on a case-by-case basis. The court may order modifications to basic child support. The court rarely orders college tuition, but the parents can agree to share this kind of expense.

Also, the court accounts for a parent’s shared custody of the child and reduces the amount of child support according to the amount of time the parent spends with the child.

Rhode Island Family Law emancipates parents from paying child support when the child turns 18. In some cases, child support can be extended a few months longer but not past 19 years old.

In Washington County, child support payments do not affect one’s taxes.

Use the child support calculator to estimate the amount of child support.

Rules for spousal support in Washington County

Rules for spousal support in Washington County

Not all states accept alimony waivers in prenuptial agreements. For this reason, an award of spousal support is often negotiated during divorce proceedings.

Regardless of the requesting party’s gender, alimony can be granted in Washington County divorces if the court finds the circumstances of the parties suitable.

The premise of ordering spousal support to one of the spouses lies in the fact that homemakers often have less time and opportunities to acquire necessary training and education and pursue professional careers. As a result, their contribution to the family prevents them from becoming self-sufficient right after the divorce. Thus, spousal support aims to assist the lower-earning spouse in getting financially independent as soon as possible.

To determine whether the requesting party truly requires spousal support and the duration of alimony, a Washington County court examines the following factors, according to R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-16 - Alimony:

  • The income and earning abilities of both parties
  • The ages and the physical and mental health of both parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The contribution of either party to the other’s educations, training, or increased earning ability
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The education of both parties and the time needed for the party seeking support to gain appropriate training or education for employment
  • The property brought to the marriage by both parties
  • The monetary needs of both parties
  • Any marital misconduct committed by either party during the marriage
  • The effect alimony will have on both party’s taxes
  • The property of both parties, including property distributed during the divorce

Custodial status is also factored in when awarding alimony. Spousal support is both tax-deductible and taxable income in Rhode Island.

Although Rhode Island has the conditions of spousal support detailed in statutory law, alimony is typically determined at the judge’s discretion on a case-by-case basis. Use an alimony calculator and learn how much spousal support you may pay or receive.

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Property division in Washington County

Property division in Washington County

Dividing property in a divorce is primarily affected by state laws, which may give different definitions of marital property, marital contributions, etc. Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. It means that a Washington County couple in a divorce shall divide only the property they acquired during the marriage, leaving their separate property purchased before the marriage or after the separation out of property division.

Following the provision of R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-16.1, the court considers not only the length of the marriage and the age and health of each spouse but also the contribution of each spouse to the marital property and the household in general and marital conduct during the marriage. Economic misconduct of either spouse can harm property division by the court.

In Washington County, a prenuptial agreement with clauses on property division has a significant influence on how the court shall determine marital property and divide it between the spouses.

Divorcing spouses can divide assets on their own without involving the court. Then they will take their divorce settlement agreement to the judge to review and approve. If the agreement is fair and equitable, the court typically approves of it.

The definition of property covers not only real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles but also debts and pensions. To be sure that you do not waive any of your rights and benefits, consult with a certified pension planner or divorce financial analyst.

Mediation support in Washington County

Any divorcing couple in Washington County can request mediation to resolve their disputes without the court’s order. On average, mediation is cheaper than legal representation, and many couples choose a mediator as a neutral third party to deal with divorce-related issues quicker and at lower cost.

However, according to R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-29, the court can order mediation if a spouse contests child custody or visitation. Participation in mediation does not automatically qualify your case into a contested divorce though. But if you fail to resolve issues in mediation, the case will go to trial.

How to file for divorce in Washington County | Step-by-Step


Meet the Rhode Island residency requirements. The state requires either the plaintiff (the spouse asking for a divorce) or the defendant (the other spouse) to be a resident or a domiciled inhabitant for at least a year before filing for divorce. You will need to corroborate your residency by a witness’s testimony or affidavit at a final hearing (See RI Gen L § 15-5-12). Meet the Rhode Island residency requirements


Find out where to file. Usually, the plaintiff files the divorce papers at a local courthouse if he or she meets the residency requirements or in the county where the defendant resides, as stated in RI Gen L § 15-5-13.
As soon as you clarify where to file, you can obtain divorce forms from the court’s clerk in the county of filing or that provides state-specific printable forms. Complete them carefully on a computer and print neatly or fill them out in legible handwriting. Take your time and consult self-help resources to make sure you make no mistakes. Also, sign the required forms in the presence of a certified notary. Find out where to file


File the court forms. Take the notarized papers and two copies to court for filing. File the original of the paperwork with the court’s clerk and pay a filing fee. The clerk will stamp the copies and assign a file number for your divorce case that will go on all your divorce documents. File the court forms


Serve the spouse. Serving means arranging divorce papers to be delivered on the other spouse. Even in an uncontested divorce where the spouses agreed on the filing and resolved their issues, the defendant must be formally served with the divorce papers. The court offers the service of a professional server or a sheriff. They take a fee of $20 to $50 per delivery and bring back a completed form proving that the defendant was served. The plaintiff must submit proof of service to the court. Serve the spouse


Prepare for a final hearing. Clarify with the court’s clerk whether you need to bring a witness to a final hearing. Some counties accept affidavits confirming the spouses’ residency and the fact of irreconcilable differences. File the rest of the paperwork.
Not earlier than 60 days after filing the initial paperwork, the court may schedule a final hearing. The judge will not finalize a divorce until all financial issues are settled. Both the plaintiff and the defendant must attend a final hearing to respond to the judge’s questions about their reasons for divorce and other related issues. If one spouse fails to attend, the judge may enter a default judgment where the terms of only the attending spouse are granted. Prepare for a final hearing


Finalize your divorce. The last forms the court requires to finalize a divorce are a Decision Pending Entry of Final Judgment and a Final Judgment. File the forms with the court and be formally divorced. Finalize your divorce

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Contested Divorce

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Contested divorces can be lengthy and costly due to spouses being unable to agree on one or more key issues, including child custody, property division, or spousal support.

  • Offline and inconvenient process in which both parties often hire attorneys to represent their interests.
  • The adversarial nature of a contested divorce can lead to heightened emotional stress and strain for both spouses and their families.
  • Absent a settlement, the final divorce judgment and terms are determined by the court, which may not fully align with the preferences of either spouse.

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  • Online process to be completed at your own pace, can get documents as quickly as same day.
  • Receive ready-to-file forms specific to your jurisdiction and situation.
  • Easy online access for both spouses, free revisions for 30 days, and the ability to save your data longer term. Experienced customer support via chat and phone.
  • Ancillary services to ensure optimal outcomes, including name changes, co-parenting support, and getting started with your life after divorce.
  • Detailed instructions on how to file with the court or the option to purchase our filing service.

Filing fees for divorce in Washington County

Filing a standard civil case in Washington County will cost ‎$400.00. There are also court costs for filing additional paperwork, such as a parenting plan, financial disclosures, etc.

Clarify with the court’s clerk whether your income makes you eligible for a fee waiver. To apply for waiving fees, fill out an In Forma Pauperis request. After the judge’s approval, all your filing fees will be waived throughout the divorce proceedings.

How long will it take?

The length of a Washington County divorce depends on (1) a type of divorce and (2) how quickly the parties can hammer out their differences in connection with child custody and visitation, child support and alimony, property division, and allocation of debts. First, an uncontested divorce is faster than a divorce that goes to trial. At that, Rhode Island has a mandatory 21-day waiting period for “separate and apart” divorces and a 90-day waiting period for “irreconcilable differences” divorces.

However, it is possible for a final hearing to be scheduled 60 days after the Complaint for divorce is submitted. Clarify with the court’s clerk as to the existing divorce timeline in the county.

Remember, it is up to you and your spouse to settle all the terms of the divorce before a final hearing and not slow down the case proceedings.

Filing for divorce in Washington County | Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a divorce cost in Washington County?
If divorcing spouses can settle child custody, support issues, and property division on their own without trial, they may have their dissolution of marriage finalized within two to three months. Seen by some as a simple condition, agreeing on all divorce-related matters can be more complicated than one imagines. In Rhode Island, marital fault and misconduct are sometimes used as leverage in custody disputes and property division battles. However, the court demands hard evidence, which requires a strong legal team and a significant paying capacity.
Given the bare minimum expense of ‎$400.00 for filing fees and additional notary fees, an uncontested divorce with no children and no assets to divide can be rounded to $600.00.
Consulting with experts on custody and financial issues will inflate the total cost of divorce in Washington County exponentially. For example, mediators charge an hourly fee of $200 to $300, requiring at least two hours per session. Hourly rates for retirement planners range from $150 to $300.

How to file for divorce in Washington County without a lawyer?
Filing for divorce by yourself is an available option due to self-help resources provided by the state. The first step in getting a divorce is to file the required paperwork in your local courthouse. The only difficulty is that divorcing spouses may be unaware of the legal process, rules, and requirements. For this reason, when you are getting ready to file a DIY divorce, make sure you carefully follow the filing instructions. You can ask the court staff to explain some nuances of filing, but they cannot give you legal advice.

What are the required forms for an uncontested divorce in Washington County?
There is no standard list of divorce forms suitable for every family situation. The list of divorce forms varies from case to case, depending on the circumstances of the case. The primary list of forms for an uncontested divorce will include:

  • Complaint for Divorce
  • Verification
  • Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Schedule for Visitation for Minor Children
  • Child Support Guidelines, Worksheet and Income Table
  • Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA)
  • Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service
  • Notice of Hearing
  • Final Judgment of Divorce

Can I file for legal separation in Washington County, RI?
Yes, filing for legal separation in Washington County is similar to dissolution of marriage where a couple has to resolve child custody and financial issues. After the judgment of separation is granted, the spouses can either reconcile or turn it into a divorce by filing a Complaint for Divorce.

When is it allowed to remarry after a divorce?
In Rhode Island, there is a three-month waiting period for remarriage. If a newly divorced individual gets married earlier than a set period, such a marriage is formally void.

Divorce in Washington County online

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  • We save our clients time and money - if divorcing spouses agree regarding the terms of their divorce, they typically don’t have to pay thousands to a lawyer to handle their divorce forms and don't need to spend hours trying to do it all by themselves.

Divorce Courts in Washington County, Rhode Island

Rhode Island Family Court
Clerk Name:
Rhonda Salome
Court Address:
4800 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, Rhode Island 2879
(401) 782-4111