(For your convenience, I have put together this “Post Divorce Dos and Don’ts” list that applies to divorces in Rhode Island. Some may apply to you and many may not. Please take a few minutes to read this. If you have any questions about this article or need 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 payments. In the event that there is a dispute over whether or not you have made payments, accurate records are important as 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 one final judgment in your case, changes can only be made by requesting the court for a modification of the final judgment based on a substantial change in circumstances.
If your children’s visits are in dispute, keep accurate records of your visits by documenting dates, times, activities, and / or confrontations with your ex-spouse.
If your ex-spouse receives “welfare” (afdc benefits), do not make direct payments! You must make the payment to the state of Rhode Island. In the event that your ex-spouse receives welfare and you make payments directly to him, these payments will be considered a gift. The State of Rhode Island (RI) will still pursue you for child support payments, even though you made the payments to your ex-spouse directly. This means that you will have to make double child support payments.
Do not modify the property settlement agreement by verbal agreement. ALL changes to a property settlement agreement must be made 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 something 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, you could still be arrested for violating the restraining order. Any type of communication constitutes a violation of the restraining order, including emails, letters, faxes, or voicemail messages. Do not trust your ex-spouse’s insistence that a restraining order has been dismissed. You should verify with the Rhode Island Family Court Clerk that the restraining order has been dismissed.
If your circumstances change, consider 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 the alimony is non-modifiable, then the alimony is not modifiable. If there is no property agreement in your case and alimony, then the alimony can probably be modified in the event of a substantial change in circumstances. A substantial change in circumstances could be loss of income, loss of a job or disability, etc.
A. Child support
Child support does not automatically end when your child turns eighteen (18) years old. Child support will automatically increase unless a motion is filed to cancel child support.
If you are the parent with the physical placement of your child / children and your income drops significantly or your ex-spouse’s income increases significantly, you should contact an attorney to file a Motion to Increase Child Support Payments.
If you are the parent without the physical location of your child and your income drops significantly or your ex-spouse’s income increases significantly, you should contact an attorney to file a Motion to Reduce Your Child Support Obligation. If you are unable to pay child support due to a change in circumstances, you must file a motion to modify child support immediately; otherwise, you may be the subject of contempt proceedings for failure to pay child support.