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Rhode Island Divorce Information

The following information is to provide a basic understanding of the various aspects of Rhode Island divorce.

You can get more specific information regarding Rhode Island divorce laws using the links provided to Rhode Island divorce laws or at your local library.

This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Before taking any action you should seek the advice of an attorney familiar with the laws in the state in which you will be seeking a divorce.

Every effort has been made to assure that the information contained in these pages is accurate however, due to the ever changing nature of the law some material may be outdated or may no longer apply.

Rhode Island Divorce Resources

Residency Requirements No complaint for divorce from the bond of marriage shall be granted unless the plaintiff has been a domiciled inhabitant of this state and has resided in this state for a period of one year next before the filing of the complaint;
Where to File All complaints for divorce from the bond of marriage and from bed and board and complaints for relief without commencement of divorce proceedings shall be filed in the county in which the plaintiff is residing, unless the complaint is based upon the residence of the defendant, in which case the complaint shall be filed in Providence County or in the county in which the defendant resides.
Grounds for Divorce Divorces from the bond of marriage shall also be decreed for the following causes:
  • Impotency
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion for five (5) years of either of the parties, or for willful desertion for a shorter period of time in the discretion of the court
  • Continued drunkenness
  • The habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, or chloral
  • Neglect and refusal, for the period of at least one year next before the filing of the petition, on the part of the husband to provide necessaries for the subsistence of his wife, the husband being of sufficient ability
  • Any other gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, repugnant to and in violation of the marriage covenant
Voluntary or required mediation Yes
Voluntary or recommended CounselingYes
Property Distribution In addition to or in lieu of an order to pay spousal support made pursuant to a complaint for divorce, the court may assign to either the husband or wife a portion of the estate of the other. In determining the nature and value of the property, if any, to be assigned, the court after hearing the witnesses, if any, of each party shall consider the following:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • The contribution of each of the parties during the marriage in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in value of their respective estates
  • The contribution and services of either party as a homemaker
  • The health and age of the parties
  • The amount and sources of income of each of the parties
  • The occupation and employability of each of the parties
  • The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training, licensure, business, or increased earning power of the other
  • The need of the custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects taking into account the best interests of the children of the marriage
  • Either party's wasteful dissipation of assets or any transfer or encumbrance of assets made in contemplation of divorce without fair consideration
  • Any factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper
Child Custody In regulating the custody of the children, the court shall provide for the reasonable right of visitation by the natural parent not having custody of the children, except upon the showing of cause why the right should not be granted. The court shall mandate compliance with its order by both the custodial parent and the children. In the event of noncompliance, the noncustodial parent may file a motion for contempt in family court. Upon a finding by the court that its order for visitation has not been complied with, the court shall exercise its discretion in providing a remedy, and define the noncustodial parent's visitation in detail. However, if a second finding of noncompliance by the court is made, the court shall consider this to be grounds for a change of custody to the noncustodial parent.

In regulating the custody and determining the best interests of children, the fact that a parent is receiving public assistance shall not be a factor in awarding custody.

A judicial determination that the child has been physically or sexually abused by the natural parent shall constitute sufficient cause to deny the right of visitation. However, when the court enters an order denying visitation under this section, it shall review the case at least annually to determine what, if any, action the parent has taken to rehabilitate himself or herself and whether the denial of visitation continues to be in the child's best interests.

The court may order a natural parent who has been denied the right of visitation due to physical or sexual abuse of his or her child to engage in counseling. The failure of the parent to engage in counseling, ordered by the court pursuant to this section, shall constitute sufficient cause to deny visitation.
Child Support In a proceeding for divorce, divorce from bed and board, a miscellaneous petition without the filing of divorce proceedings, or child support, the court shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child to pay an amount based upon a formula and guidelines adopted by an administrative order of the family court. If, after calculating support based upon court established formula and guidelines, the court, in its discretion, finds the order would be inequitable to the child or either parent, the court shall make findings of fact and shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support after considering all relevant factors including, but not limited to:
  • The financial resources of the child
  • The financial resources of the custodial parent
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
  • The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs
  • The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent
The court may, if in its discretion it deems it necessary or advisable, order child support and education costs for children attending high school at the time of their eighteenth (18th) birthday and for ninety (90) days after graduation, but in no case beyond their nineteenth (19th) birthday. In addition, the court may order child support to continue, in the case of a child with a severe physical or mental impairment, until the twenty-first (21st) birthday of the child.
Spousal Support In granting any petition for divorce, divorce from bed and board, or relief without the commencement of divorce proceedings, the family court may order either of the parties to pay alimony or counsel fees, or both, to the other.

In determining the amount of alimony or counsel fees, if any, to be paid, the court, after hearing the witnesses, if any, of each party, shall consider:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The conduct of the parties during the marriage
  • The health, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
  • The state and the liabilities and needs of each of the parties
  • The extent to which either party is unable to support herself or himself adequately because that party is the primary physical custodian of a child whose age, condition, or circumstances make it appropriate that the parent not seek employment outside the home, or seek only part-time or flexible-hour employment outside the home
  • The extent to which either party is unable to support herself or himself adequately
  • The extent to which a party was absent from employment while fulfilling homemaking responsibilities, and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience of that party have become outmoded and his or her earning capacity diminished
  • The time and expense required for the supported spouse to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop marketable skills and find appropriate employment
  • The probability, given a party's age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming self-supporting
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The opportunity of either party for future acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The ability to pay of the supporting spouse, taking into account the supporting spouse's earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, debts, and standard of living
  • Any other factor which the court expressly finds to be just and proper


Rhode Island Divorce Attorneys by County

Click on any RI county below to find a divorce attorney in your area.

Bristol
Kent
Newport
Providence
Washington

Rhode Island Divorce Mediators by County

Click on any RI county below to find a divorce mediator in your area.

Bristol
Kent
Newport
Providence
Washington

DISCLAIMER:
This information has been compiled directly from the most recently available statutes online for each state. Every effort has been made to assure that this information is correct and complete. Be aware that laws frequently change. Do not take any action based on this information without first consulting an attorney to be certain that the laws pertaining to your particular situation have not changed.

The language used in most cases on this page is legal terminology taken directly from the statutes and laws of each state. The terminology is not always easy to understand. If you are not sure of something you should consult an attorney so that you can fully understand the meaning of the laws.

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