Yesterday, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo signed a new bill into law
extending the time during which a final judgment can be entered in a Rhode
Island divorce. In Rhode Island, there is a mandatory three-month waiting
period from the date of the nominal divorce hearing to the date that the
final judgment of divorce can be entered. (This waiting period is shortened
to 20 days when the court finds the parties have lived separate and apart
for at least three years prior to the filing of the divorce).
Parties are not divorced until final judgment has been entered. Under the
old law, litigants had up to 30 days after the mandatory waiting period
to enter their final judgment. Under the new law, litigants have up to
180 days to enter the final judgment. If 180 days pass and final judgment
still has not entered, the final judgment can be entered “out of
time” by agreement, in the form of a stipulation filed with the
court. Under the previous law, parties would have to file a motion and
be heard in open court before a final judgment could be entered “out
This extended time gives parties more time to complete Qualified Domestic
Relations Orders (QDROs) and tie up other loose ends before the divorce
is final, for example completing the sale of real estate or the division
of accounts. There are also tax implications. Parties are still legally
married up until final judgment is entered. Accordingly, up until the
entry of final judgment parties have the option of filing taxes jointly.
The extended time in which these judgments can now be entered give parties
more flexibility around tax planning.
The bill can be viewed online at: