October 7, 2020: As many people who have filed for divorce
in Rhode Island Family Court are not represented by legal counsel, the
Judiciary is introducing an online tool that will be helpful for certain case
The Family Court will be the first in the Rhode Island
Judiciary to launch a service known as “Guide & File” for self-represented
litigants and other users of the Judiciary’s electronic case filing system.
Guide & File is a web-based electronic tool that enables litigants to
create legible legal documents for specific types of case filings from any
computer having internet access at any time.
The Family Court will offer the service as a pilot program
to assist parties involved in basic divorce proceedings to generate the two
documents that are needed to finalize a divorce: a decision pending entry of
final judgment and a final judgment. Oftentimes, self-represented litigants are
uncertain of what must be included in these required documents. The new service
will help them through the confusion. At present, the service is not offered as
a way to initiate divorce proceedings.
After accessing Guide & File, users are prompted to
answer a series of questions that, much like popular tax-filing programs, would
create further questions and ultimately produce a document suitable for filing
with the court.
Guide & File, which is a Tyler Technologies product, is
accessible on http://www.ri.courts.comwww.courts.ri.gov in the
Self-help Center, on the Family Court’s home page, and on the Family Court’s
Virtual Clerk’s Office page, which includes an explanation of the service.
Family Court Chief Judge Michael B. Forte has
enthusiastically supported the advent of Guide & File and has instructed
his staff to develop other Guide & File tools. “Since mid-March when the
pandemic hit, and the number of people allowed in the courthouses was
drastically reduced, my staff and I have diligently sought creative means to
augment the public’s ability to access justice in a convenient, safe way. The
availability of Guide & File for finalizing divorce documents is another
solid step in this direction.”
that allows the public to remotely conduct business previously done in
courthouses from any electronic device having a microphone and audio-visual
capabilities. Earlier that same month, Chief Judge Forte presided over
two night-court sessions during which 16 divorces were heard and decided
remotely at times and in places that were more convenient for the litigants and