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How to Draft a Rhode Island Family Court Motion.

Preparing a Motion in a Rhode Island Divorce is simply a matter of following a general formula of elements that the court and the judge will be looking for so that it can be recognized as a motion, identified with the correct case, notify everyone as to what you are seeking and why and let the court judge know that the opposing party has had property notice.

1.  The first element is a basic header.  It includes the name of the  state, the county, and the court in which the matter is pending.  In the family court for Providence Family Court the typical header would appear at the top of your motion and would look like the following:

STATE OF RHODE ISLAND                                                                                   FAMILY COURT

Note that the header is in all CAPITAL letters with the state and county flush with the left margin and the name of the court flush with the right hand column.  The S.C. after the county name stands for Sheriff's County.  In some instances you may see S.S. or SS. used which is the older colloquialism for Sheriff's Shire.

2.  The second element that appears under the basic header is the case caption.  The case caption contains the names of the plaintiff above the name of the defendant as well as the case number assigned by the court.  The case caption would appear as follows:


VS.                                                                             CASE NO. P08-0086                                                                


Note that typically the case number is placed from the center typing toward the right margin.

3.  The third and simplest element is the title of the motion which is typed in all CAPITAL letters, centered and often underlined.  For instance, a motion for modification of child support would appear as follows:



4.   The fourth element of a Rhode Island Divorce or Family Court motion is the body of the motion which includes your request for relief and the basic reason(s) why the relief should be granted.  The typical body of this motion may be in standard type and paragraph form as follows:

        Now Comes the Plaintiff, Johnathan Smith and moves this Court for an Order modifying his child support obligation in this matter.

        In support of this motion the Plaintiff states that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and/or incomes of the parties since the last time the child support obligation was set.

5.  The fifth element is the closing of the motion which contains the parties name and either the name, address and telephone number of the party or the party's attorney.  It also contains the hearing date for the motion which would be obtained from the clerk of the judge who would be hearing the motion.  It would appear as follows if Johnathan represented himself (Pro Se)

                            JOHNATHAN SMITH
                            PRO SE


Johnathan Smith         
15 Mantel Avenue
Coventry, RI 02819
(401) 467-2392

6.  The last element is the certification.  If this is an initial motion and the case has been either closed or inactive (without a pending court date scheduled) then you will have to create summonses and have your spouse served as required by law.   This is a topic beyond this short article posting.   However, what I am referring to here is when a case is active and there is a pending court date in the case that you are filing the motion in, then you must provide a certification that tells the court that you served the opposing party by mail (or more appropriately their attorney if they are represented by one).  It appears below the closing and looks like the following and must be signed by the person doing the mailing (i.e. making the service):


     I certify that on April 15, 2008 I served a copy of this motion by first-class mail upon Mary Smith at 88 Dupont Lane, Providence, RI  02903


For those who must represent themselves in family court it is my hope that this tutorial on motion drafting has been helpful and that the formatting tools used to create this article have not made it appear too disjointed.

Authored by:

Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
571 Pontiac Avenue
Cranston, RI  02910
Phone:  (401) 354-2369

Attorney Pearsall's practice is focused almost exclusively in the areas of Divorce and Family law.

CALL (401) 354-2369 now to schedule for your low-cost, no obligation legal consultation!

NOTE:  The postings on this website are NOT legal advice, DO NOT create an attorney/client relationship and are NOT a substitute for a detailed consultation with an attorney experienced in the state where you have your legal issue.  This site is based on Rhode Island and is presented for the convenience of the internet public.

* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law and has no procedure for recognition of specialty in any area of law.

Copyright 2008 - Christopher A. Pearsall and Pearsall Law Associates (All Rights Reserved.)