(For your convenience, I have prepared this list of “Post Divorce Do’s and Don’ts” which are applicable to Rhode Island divorces. Some may be applicable to your case and many will not be applicable. Please take a few minutes to read this. If you have any questions about this article or need any legal help please contact a Rhode Island divorce attorney) Artilce by David Slepkow 401-437-1100
Keep accurate records of child support, alimony, or other property settlement payment(s). In the event that there is a dispute as to whether or not you have made payments, accurate records are important for proof of payment.
If you have a property settlement agreement in your case, any changes to the property settlement agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
In the event that you do not have a property settlement agreement and there is only a final judgment in your case, changes can only be made by application to the court for a modification of the final judgment based on a substantial change of circumstances.
If visitation of your children is in dispute, keep accurate records of your visitations documenting dates, times, activities and/or confrontations with your ex-spouse.
If your ex-spouse is on “welfare” (afdc benefits) then do not make direct payments to her or him! You must make the payment to the State of Rhode Island. In the event that your ex-spouse is on welfare and you make payments directly to her/him, then these payments will be considered a gift. The State of Rhode Island (RI) will still pursue you for the child support payments, despite the fact that you have made the payments to your ex-spouse directly. This means that you will have to make double payments of child support.
Do not modify the property settlement agreement by an oral agreement. ALL changes to a property settlement agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties.
Do not make cash payments of alimony or child support without a signed receipt from your ex-spouse.
If you make payments directly to your child or buy anything for your child, these payments will be considered gifts to your child and will not be a credit towards child support. Therefore, if you want these types of payments to be considered child support, they must be given directly to your spouse as child support.
If there is a restraining order or no contact order in your case, do not contact your ex-spouse without the restraining order being dismissed. Even if your ex-spouse initiates the communication or invites you over, you could still be arrested for violating the restraining order. Any type of communication is a violation of the restraining order including e-mails, letters, faxes or voice mail messages. Do not rely on your ex-spouse’s insistence that a restraining order has been dismissed. You need to verify with the Clerk of the Rhode Island Family Court that the restraining order has been dismissed.
If your circumstances change, look into filing a motion to modify alimony, immediately. This only applies if the alimony is modifiable. If there is a property settlement agreement that is incorporated into the final judgment that states that alimony is non modifiable then the alimony is non modifiable. If there is no property settlement in your case and an award of alimony, then the alimony is probably modifiable upon a substantial change in circumstances. A substantial change of circumstances could be a loss of income, loss of a job or a disability etc.
A. Child Support
Child support does not automatically terminate when your child reaches eighteen (18) years of age. Child support will automatically accrue unless a Motion to Terminate Child Support is filed.
If you are the parent with physical placement of your child/children and your income significantly decreases or your ex-spouse’s income significantly increases, then you should contact a lawyer to file a Motion to increase your child support payments.
If you are the parent without physical placement of your child and your income decreases significantly or your ex-spouse’s income significantly increases, then you should contact a lawyer to file a Motion to lower your child support obligation. If you cannot pay your child support because of a change in circumstances you need to file a motion to modify child support immediately otherwise you can be subjected to a contempt proceeding for failure to pay child support.