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Rhode Island Divorce Laws – What You Need to Know!

Divorce in Rhode Island doesn’t have to be acrimonious. The state statutes allow for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. There are cases, however, where one party is considered to be at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. The grounds for an at-fault divorce in the state of Rhode Island are as follows:

  • Impotency
  • Adultery
  • Extreme Cruelty
  • Willful desertion for no fewer than five years, unless a shorter period is granted at the court’s discretion
  • Habitual drunkenness or use of narcotic drugs
  • Refusal and neglect for the period of one year prior to the divorce filing, for the husband who is able to provide the necessary basics for his wife’s subsistence
  • Other wickedness or gross misbehavior that is repugnant and a violation of the marriage covenant

Residency and Filing Requirements

According to the Rhode Island statutes, in order for a party to file for divorce in the state, either or both spouses must have been a resident of Rhode Island for at least a year before filing a divorce petition. In most cases the petition is filed in the family court of the county where the plaintiff lives. When the residency requirements are met due to the defendant’s living within the state, the petitions will be filed in that county. Under certain circumstances, the case can be transferred to Providence County no matter where the actual residency was established.

The petition itself must list the grounds for the divorce, a statement verifying that the spouses meet the residency requirements and some basic information about the parties and any minor children of the marriage.

Division of Marital Property in Rhode Island

Because Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, the courts will divide all assets and debts equitably, which does not mean evenly in all cases. The court considers many factors when making the determination of who gets what out of the marital property. Some of those factors include the duration of the marriage and the conduct of both of the spouses and what each party contributed toward acquiring, preserving and appreciating the value of the estates of the parties. The contributions of the spouse who was the homemaker during the marriage is also given value.

Judges are free to consider both spouses’ age and health, as well as the employability and jobs of both. They can factor in the amount each party earns and what the source of their income is. Judges assess the opportunities the parties have to acquire future income and assets, and any contributions one may have made to the education, training and increased earning capacity of the other over the course of their relationship.

The needs of any minor children are foremost to the court, and judges take into consideration the needs of the primary custodial guardian of the children when deciding who will occupy the marital domicile and have use of the household furnishings and articles. If either spouse transferred, encumbered or destroyed marital assets, this would negatively reflect on the party.

To learn more about your rights and responsibilities in a Rhode Island divorce, arrange a consultation with a family law attorney who can apprise you of specific requirements for your particular situation.

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