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Automatic orders in Rhode Island divorce proceedings

When a spouse in Rhode Island files for divorce and serves the petition and summons upon the other spouse, certain orders automatically go into effect. Per Rhode Island law, some automatic orders deal with the couple's property and others relate to any children that the couple has.

First of all, spouses in Rhode Island are not allowed to sell, encumber or in any other way get rid of any marital property without the permission of the other spouse, except that which is usually done by the spouses in the ordinary course of business, to cover attorneys' fees or to pay for household expenses. Similarly, spouses may not take on debts that are deemed to be unreasonable, including taking out a home equity line of credit or the unreasonably running up credit card bills.

If a couple in Rhode Island has children, a parent may not permanently move with the child out of the state without first getting the other parent's consent in writing. Furthermore, the child must remain on one of the parent's health care insurance plans. If a parent is leaving the marital home before the divorce is complete and the couple has a child together, the other spouse or that spouse's lawyer must receive written notice of the move within two days of the move.

In addition, Rhode Island couples cannot change any designated beneficiaries on any life insurance plans that they may own while the divorce is pending. Other insurance plans, such as renter's, homeowners or car insurance policies must also remain in effect.

There are times when both spouses still may be residing together in the marital home, even after filing for divorce. If this is the case, one parent cannot force the other parent out of the home. Finally, if a couple in Rhode Island has a child and the spouses do not reside together during the divorce proceedings, they must make sure the child is able to communicate with each parent, whether it is through visits, over the phone or in writing.

It is important to uphold these automatic orders so that the divorce proceedings are fair and each party's interests are protected, as are those of any children who are involved. Those in Rhode Island with further questions about automatic orders in the event of a divorce should make sure they seek the help they need to understand their rights.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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