rhode island family court basics

Rhode Island Family Court: The Basics

What Is Rhode Island Family Court?

The Rhode Island Family Court focuses on the individual as well as social problems that affect children, couples, and families in general. The goal of Family Court is to protect families and ensure the well-being of anyone threatened. Above all else, the role of the court is to serve the best interests of the children.

In the state of Rhode Island, Family Court assures that children in cases are cared for and receive the guidance they need to fulfill the best interest of the child’s welfare. Furthermore, the court works in the best interest of the state. Also, a judge representing the Rhode Island family court may remove a child from the control of their parents if they believe they are not providing a safe environment. In this case, the court must secure guardianship that provides adequate care for the child or children.

In addition to child laws, Family Court hears and determines petitions for divorce and all motions relating to the proceedings. These motions include the distribution of alimony, child support, property, and the custody of the children. Furthermore, the court oversees premarital agreements, same-sex agreements, and partner agreements to protect assets and children.

Also, the Family Court oversees matters regarding children who are delinquent or wayward. They may also see cases involving children that are neglected, abused, or mentally disordered. Finally, the court hears cases involving child marriages, paternity proceedings, adoptions and many other matters that involve domestic relationships and children under the age of 18.

While the cases seen in Rhode Island Family Court are plenty and varied, there are two types of cases most common: Divorce & Child Support. Below we highlight the basics behind these Family Court cases in the state of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Family Court & Divorce

If you and your spouse live in Rhode Island with a residency lasting over one year before the divorce proceedings, the case can be conducted in this state. To file a divorce, one spouse must file a “Complaint.” The one who files is the “plaintiff” while the other spouse is the “defendant.” The plaintiff must pay a fee to submit a divorce complaint.

A Rhode Island divorce attorney can help file a Complaint for divorce. After filling out the complaint form and a verification form, the plaintiff delivers them to one of the four family courts in the state of Rhode Island. Once filed, the plaintiff waits to receive a blank “Summons.” The plaintiff completes the summons with the same information provided in the complaint case. The court clerk provides the name of the case, the docket number, and the name of the family court used.

Next, the defendant spouse receives a copy of the complaint and summons in “Service.” There are two ways the law allows delivery regarding this procedure. First, the plaintiff spouse may use the sheriff’s office in the county where the defendant lives. Second, they may use a private constable authorized in the state of Rhode Island to deliver the papers. However, both options require a fee.

Finally, the defendant files a response or “answer” to the complaint. In the answer, the defendant corrects incorrect statements in the complaint and specifies their desired results of the divorce. A defendant may file a counterclaim if their reasons for divorce are different. An experienced Rhode Island divorce lawyer can help file a counterclaim.

RI Family Court & Child Support

In the state of Rhode Island, all parents must support their children. After a divorce or separation, both parties must meet both financial and other needs of the child. The court designates a non-custodial parent– the one that spends less time with the child or children– to make child support payments. On the other hand, the custodial parent may pay child support, but the law takes into account the amount of time they spend with the child.

Child support payments depend on the parents’ finances as well as the child’s needs. The state provides a set of guidelines that establish a minimal amount of support. These costs cover all medical, educational, and the other various costs of raising children. Furthermore, by federal law, the parents must provide all children with health insurance.

While guidelines exist for Rhode Island child support, sometimes calculations result unfairly. The Family Court may adjust the amount to an appropriate level for all parties involved. A Rhode Island child support attorney can help parents facing the Family Court in these cases.

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