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Rhode Island Divorce Frequently Asked Questions

This list of frequently asked questions and answers on issues of separation and divorce has been developed by Divorce Headquarters in conjunction with our professional members (attorneys and mediators) in response to the numerous requests for information we have received from our site visitors.

The answers to the questions provided in this section are general in nature and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship or to replace specific legal advice.

The authors and creators and any and all persons or entities involved in any way in preparation of the website known as Divorce Headquarters and/or divorcehq.com disclaim all responsibility for the legal effects or consequences of the interpretation of the information provided. Individuals intending to use divorcehq.com as an information resource should seek advice from family law professionals and experts familiar with the laws of their state. This website is not intended to provide legal advice and should not be relied on for that purpose.


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Do not take any actions based upon the information contained within this web site without first consulting an attorney or an appropriate professional depending upon the content of the information.





Return How do I modify, increase or terminate child support in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island child support can only be modified if there is a substantial change of circumstances. In order to get a substantial change of circumstances, the child support amount must be 10 percent more or less than the old child support order. The change in circumstances could result from loss of a job, increase of income of either party, new dependents, loss of overtime, unemployment, a disability, etc.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return My child is about to turn 18 but is still in high school and living at home, can I still get child support?
Under Rhode Island Law, child support should end when a child turns 18 and graduates high school. If the child is still in high school, then child support will continue until the child turns 19. Child support in Rhode Island automatically continues even after the child turns 18 unless a Motion to terminate child support is filed. If you are a non-possessory parent, your best option is to file a Motion to Terminate Child Support approximately 40 days prior to your child turning 18 and graduating high school. This will mean that the motion will be heard on a court date soon after the child turns 18. Please note that the non-possessory parent can still be found in contempt for failure to pay child support even after the child turns 18 if there is no motion granted to terminate the child support. If a child is seriously disabled, child support shall continue until the child turns 23 years old.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return What if my child's parent works overtime? Will overtime be included in child support?
There is no standard law or rule in Rhode Island regarding whether or not the non-possessory parent's overtime will be used to calculate child support. One Judge in Rhode Island consistently rules that overtime compensation cannot be used to calculate child support. Other Judges in Rhode Island have different opinions regarding overtime. The Family Court is a court of equity and fairness. Judges in Rhode Island will typically look at whether or not a person consistently works overtime over a substantial period of time. Judges may also look at whether or not overtime is consistently offered to a spouse. If overtime is infrequent or not typically offered Judges may be hesitant to calculate overtime as a factor of child support. In that case, many attorneys argue that a person's income should be calculated using their W2 or gross income for the entire calendar year. By calculating gross income over an entire calendar year even infrequent overtime becomes an element of child support. Judges may also look at other factors such as the needs and expenses of both parties and any extraordinary expenses for the child. At least one Judge has suggested that the possessory parent get a percentage of the overtime that is worked by the non-possessory parent. Other Judges in Rhode Island believe that overtime should always be a factor in child support. Often the issue of overtime is negotiated by the lawyers prior to any formal ruling by the Judge.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return Does it make a difference who files the divorce first?
It should make no difference which spouse files the divorce when the court determines equitable division of the assets, child support, visitation, alimony, etc. However, in the event that a no contact order, restraining order or emergency motion is needed or filed, which party files first can be extremely significant. This is especially true if there is an emergency motion concerning custody and/or visitation concerning a child.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return How long does it take to get a divorce in Rhode Island?
If all issues concerning divorce, child support, equitable division of assets, alimony, visitation and other issues are resolved between the parties, the earliest possible date for a nominal divorce (a nominal divorce is a non-contested divorce in which everything is agreed to) is approximately seventy days after the plaintiff files a complaint for divorce. If the matter is set down as uncontested, then an automatic court date, "the Nominal Divorce Hearing", will be set by the clerk approximately seventy days after filing. In the event that one party does not want to go forward on that seventy day nominal divorce hearing date or if all issues are not resolved between the parties, then the case will not go forward on the nominal date and will be set for additional conferences and potentially the discovery process. The case may eventually culminate with a trial. Contested divorces typically resolve in 6 - 10 months. The divorce cannot become finalized until, at a minimum, ninety days after the parties attend the nominal court hearing. In the event that the parties do not go to court and resolve the matter at the nominal court date, then the divorce could take up to one year or potentially more.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return What does no fault divorce mean in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island you do not need to prove fault grounds in order to obtain an absolute divorce. All you need to do is prove irreconcilable differences in order to get a divorce. In other words, if either party wants to terminate the marriage, then that party can get a divorce so long as the other jurisdictional requirements in Rhode Island are met. "No fault divorce" does not mean that fault is not significant in Rhode Island divorces. If a party can prove that the other party is at fault for the break up of the marriage, then they can seek a disproportionate share of the marital assets. Fault can also be a factor to determine whether or not a party is entitled to alimony. The following types of behavior could be grounds to obtain more than fifty percent of the marital assets: alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, extramarital affairs, abusive behavior, abandonment, etc.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return What is the residency requirement to obtain a divorce in Rhode Island?
In order to file for divorce in Rhode Island you need to have been a domiciled inhabitant and resident of Rhode Island for one year prior to your filing of the complaint for divorce. If you have not been a domiciled inhabitant and resident of Rhode Island for one year prior to filing your complaint for divorce, you can file based on your husband's/wife's residency in Rhode Island for one year prior to the filing. There are exceptions for people stationed in the military who maintain a residency in Rhode Island. Even if you move the day after filing, you still meet the residency requirements in Rhode Island. If you do not qualify to file for divorce in RI you should look for lawyers (attorneys) in other states.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return Can I get my child's father to be ordered to pay for my child's college education?
In Rhode Island the Court has no jurisdiction to order a parent to pay for the college education of his/her child. However, if pursuant to a Property Settlement Agreement or other contract, one party agrees to pay for a child's education, then that agreement may be enforced by a court of law. Therefore, if you seek to have your child's parent pay for your child's college education, then you must negotiate payment

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100  



Return Who is going to pay for my child's daycare?
The Rhode Island minimum child support guidelines take into account both the importance and expense of daycare. The child support guidelines and worksheet are used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid by the non-possessory parent. The bottom line is that a party will be ordered to pay approximately the same percentage of the daycare that the party makes in relation to that party's percentage of the combined gross income of both parties. For example: If the husband makes $100,000.00 and the wife makes $50,000.00 the combined gross income for the parties is $150,000.00. Therefore, the husband makes 66 percent of the income and will be ordered to pay 66 percent of the daycare in addition to child support. (There may be an adjustment to take into account the federal tax credit.) This amount is added onto the minimum Child Support Guidelines amount.

This answer supplied by: David Slepkow of Slepkow Slepkow & Associates     (401)437-1100