Skip to Content
Make An Appointment 401-589-5599

At What Point In A Divorce Process Do We Actually Sign Divorce Papers?


The only thing two parties would sign due to their divorce would be a marital or property settlement agreement. They are not required in all divorce cases, and you usually see them when parties have agreements around custody or property. In that agreement, which is treated like a contract, you will see items like a plan to sell the house and divide the proceeds, a parenting plan, and a holiday plan. An agreement about any property is carved in stone. There’s no changing those agreements unless it’s by the mutual agreement of the divorcing parties. However, concerning agreements around children, changes can be made.

Agreements about children can change when there’s any significant change in circumstances. That agreement is usually signed when the parties successfully reach an agreement and before the nominal hearing, where both parties take the stand to testify and outline their agreements with the court. Courts ensure that the parties have signed the agreement voluntarily, and it becomes part of their divorce. If they disagree, there will be a contested trial, where the court will make all of those decisions, and the parties won’t be signing anything.

How Long Does It Take Generally To Reach A Finalized Divorce Or Custody Decree?

I tell my clients that they should prepare for a year from when they file for divorce until their divorce is finalized. However, the amount of time from the parties’ nominal hearing until they receive their final decree for divorce is usually only about 90 days.

What Is The Official Divorce Date, And Does It Matter?

The official divorce date is when the court signs the final decree. It can affect certain things. For example, retirement accounts are divided, and those retirement accounts go up or down with the market. A law in Rhode Island suggests that one spouse, who is the recipient, would receive the value up until the final decree, which could impact the amount they receive. It also matters if one of the parties wants to remarry.

In Rhode Island, the Health Insurance Continuation Act suggests that a party in a divorce should carry the other person on their health care so long as they’re eligible. Employers have gotten wise to that act, and they will often make ex-spouses ineligible for health insurance. If a final decree enters, that spouse then becomes ineligible to be carried on health insurance. This can be very relevant for people who need health insurance, and sometimes, finalization is delayed.

Do I Have Any Legal Right To Continue Health Care Coverage After A Divorce Is Finalized?

In Rhode Island, the spouse who has carried the health insurance would be under an ongoing obligation to carry that health insurance, so long as the other spouse is eligible, through their employer. Most employers do not allow spouses to be eligible to continue to receive health insurance once the parties are divorced. However, if the parties are eligible, one consideration would be that the recipient of the health insurance would have to contribute the additional cost to continue to carry them. If ex-spouses were eligible to receive health insurance through an employer and there was a difference between an individual and a family plan, they would have to contribute whatever that extra cost was to remain on the health insurance. Most employers have made ex-spouses ineligible without a court order.

For more information on signing papers in the divorce process in Rhode Island, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling 401-589-5599 today.

Our senior attorney, Veronica Assalone, is proficient in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and American Sign Language. Our office assistant speaks Spanish.