The word "nominal" is generally defined as meaning something "small, brief or of little consequence or value." In its root form its literal translation was akin to "in name only". In Rhode Island Divorce proceedings you can understand a Rhode Island Nominal Hearing by thinking of it as a combination of its linguistic roots and its modern day definition.
A Nominal Hearing is a divorce hearing in which there are no "disputes" presented before the court for determination and the court is only required to make determinations regarding those issues required to be addressed as required by law in order for the judge to grant a divorce. Since the hearing presents no disputes, it is typically very brief and usually lasts less than twenty (20 to 30) minutes. It may be considered a hearing "in name only" because you are merely presenting to the court matters that are not in dispute and the proceeding becomes something akin to a formalization of what relief is requested by the court.
This can happen in one of two ways in which "no disputes" are presented to the court for decision so that a Nominal Divorce Hearing can be had.
1) Both the husband and wife in the divorce agree upon every aspect of their divorce.
2) The party filing the Rhode Island Divorce action (i.e. the Plaintiff) establishes the court's jurisdiction over the parties and the requirements of those elements required to be on the record for the court to grant the divorce; AND the non-filing party (i.e. the Defendant) does not show up for the hearing and is defaulted. Naturally since the Defendant is not present and has been defaulted, there aren't any "disputes" because a dispute requires two parties that disagree on an issue.
Note: In a Nominal Divorce Proceeding the party filing the divorce merely asks the court for the relief he or she is seeking from the court.
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