Being served with divorce papers can be highly stressful, especially if you weren’t expecting it. It’s important to understand how you can respond to a petition for divorce in a productive way. ​

Responding to a Rhode Island Divorce Petition

People are often hurt or confused when served with divorce papers because those papers are delivered by someone other than the spouse. However, this is not necessarily a reflection of your spouse’s feelings toward you. Rhode Island law requires divorce papers to be served by a local sheriff, private constable, or other acceptable third party. This person will record your receipt of the documents, starting the “clock” on the time you have to respond.

Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer

After you have been served with divorce papers, you should:

Accept the documents.

It is never a good idea to refuse service of divorce papers. The person serving the paperwork is merely delivering copies of a complaint that has already been filed with the court, so it will not stop the legal process from continuing. In addition, refusing can result in a default judgment against you, meaning your spouse will get everything he has asked for in the petition. The best response is to accept the divorce petition, and prepare your response.

Read through the paperwork.

You will be given several different documents, including the legal complaint, a summons, and the petition for dissolution of marriage. Read through the papers carefully, so you understand the demands your partner is making, particularly with regard to shared finances, custody, and alimony.

Speak to an attorney.

If you have received divorce paperwork, your spouse has already prepared the divorce petition and financial documents, filed with the court, and, very likely, hired his own attorney. Your own attorney will go through the petition with you, prepare a response that addresses each spouse’s demands, and make sure that your response is filed by the deadline.

Do You Need To Speak To A Rhode Island Divorce Attorney?

If you are considering a divorce you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help divorce clients in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.


Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.