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How quickly can you get divorced in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island has a somewhat unique system for handling divorces. Instead of putting all divorces together in the same legal queue, divorcing couples can be placed in one of two "tracks."

When you file your divorce, your attorney should request either the Nominal or Contested track. The Nominal track is for non-contested cases that want a speedy resolution and is also the default option for any divorces that don't specifically request a track.

What are the benefits of a Nominal Divorce?

A Nominal divorce is likely to be quicker, less expensive and less stressful than a Contested one—it also puts you and your spouse in the position to keep more control over your future.

What are the requirement for a Nominal Divorce?

Either you or your spouse has to have lived in Rhode Island for at least one year prior to filing for the divorce. You must also have been separated for three years without any reconciliation periods in between.

What things have to be agreed on before you get the divorce?

If you have no assets, no children, and the marriage was relatively short, there probably is little to discuss. Otherwise, you and your spouse have to come to an agreement on spousal support, child support, custody and visitation issues, the division of debt and the division of assets.

If you can come to an agreement on everything, how quickly can you get divorced?

If you and your spouse agree to everything, your divorce can be approved at the first hearing, which is usually 77 days from filing.

What happens if there are some issues you can't agree on?

The goal is to have you and your spouse try to work out any conflicts during those 77 days. If you can't, you won't be granted a divorce at the hearing. Instead, a case management conference will be set about 28 days ahead to discuss all unresolved issues and a pre-trial date will be set. You and your spouse will have to resolve any outstanding issues before or during that case management conference in order to still receive a Nominal divorce. Otherwise, it will be set for trial.

Divorce doesn't have to be complicated or financially draining. A family law attorney can help you balance your priorities and decide if a Nominal divorce is in your best interests.

Source:, "Rhode Island Family Court Administrative Order 2003-02 RE: Domestic Caseflow Calendar Two-Track System," accessed Feb. 28, 2017

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