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What happens when you begin the road towards divorce?


Once an individual decides to divorce, this signifies not just the end of their marriage but also the beginning of the divorce process. Rhode Island residents who are contemplating divorce should understand what issues they may encounter along the way and ways to resolve these potential problems.


First of all, prior to even filing for divorce, the individual seeking a divorce must fulfill his or her state's residency requirements. While some states do not have a residency requirement for those filing for divorce, other states, including Rhode Island, require those seeking divorce to have been residents of their state for a certain period of time before they can file for divorce.

Moreover, determining what the couple's date of separation or DOS also varies by state. In some states the DOS is determined to be the date in which one of the two spouses moves out of their shared home. In other states, the DOS is that in which the couple physically separates, even if they still live together. Still in other states, the DOS begins when one spouse officially lets the other spouse know that he or she is going to file for divorce.

When it comes to property division, it is important to understand the difference between separate and marital property. In most states, separate property includes assets owned by one spouse either prior to getting married or acquired after the official DOS. Inheritances bestowed upon only one spouse may also be considered separate property, as may gifts given to one spouse by a third party. If a spouse has been awarded damages in a personal injury case for pain and suffering, this may also be considered separate property. Finally, if there is a prenuptial agreement that lists certain pieces of property as separate, this agreement may be honored if this legal document is validated during the divorce process.

After determining what property is separate and what is marital, the marital property will need to be divided. In equitable distribution states, which includes Rhode Island, assets are divided based on what would be fair and equal, meaning that one spouse or the other could walk away with more than half of the marital property.

Source: Forbes, "50 Ways To End Your Marriage: Divorce Laws Vary Widely From State To State," Jeff Landers, May 24, 2016

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