From a financial standpoint, it is more expensive to be the first to file for divorce because that person must pay the filing fee and the constable. However, procrastinating on filing for divorce could also cause a person to lose tens of thousands of dollars to their spouse. This is because if the spouse is making contributions to a retirement account even after the marriage has for all intents and purposes been long over, then half of that hard-earned money will be given to their spouse during the process of divorce.
If someone knows that the marriage is over and divorce is imminent, it would be financially wise for them to file for divorce sooner rather than later in order to limit the amount of money that will have to be given to their spouse through the divorce process.
Another reason to file first for divorce is if there is a true emergency that needs to be addressed right away, such as domestic abuse or threats to children that warrant immediate protective orders.
The individual who files first is the plaintiff, and the other person is the defendant. The defendant usually gets served by a constable with divorce documents, after which they have 20 days to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint for divorce. Ordinarily, the defendant will hire their own attorney who will prepare the documents to answer the complaint and file a counterclaim for divorce.
Clients who really have an eye toward preparedness might consult with us long before they file for divorce. It’s a great idea for someone to sit down with an attorney and contemplate months prior to actually filing so that they might have their questions answered and know what they can expect throughout the process.
I highly recommend that anyone who is contemplating divorce meet with three to five attorneys prior to hiring one. The average divorce in Rhode Island takes a least a year before it’s resolved, which means the client-attorney relationship is a very close one that requires trust and effective communication. It’s important for the client to not just take a recommendation from a friend or pick an attorney from the internet, but instead to interview their lawyer in person. Sometimes lawyers forget that they work for the client – not the other way around. It’s really important for a person to hire someone with whom they are comfortable and feel will be able to handle the case efficiently and communicatively.
Our senior attorney, Veronica Assalone, is proficient in Spanish, French, German, Italian and American Sign Language. Our office assistant speaks Spanish.
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