The rate of divorce has increased over the years, especially after the Covid 19 pandemic, and much of it has to do with social acceptance of it. Social acceptance, however, does not make the dissolution of a marriage in RI any easier. When a marriage ends, you have decisions you need to make that will affect your future and the future of any children you may share with your ex-spouse. Getting the right information can help you make informed decisions.
At the Law Office of Melissa Larsen, Esq., we know you have questions. You may be hearing all kinds of information, often incorrect, from co-workers, family or friends who claim to know about your rights in a divorce. We help you understand your rights correctly and your responsibilities during this particularly difficult time. You do not have to endure a divorce alone. Get answers to your questions today and contact us online or call or text to 401-218-0862 to schedule a free initial 15 minute consultation.
Uncontested and Contested RI Divorces
The divorce process is dependent in part on whether it's contested or not. Uncontested, or a nominal divorce, can move along rather quickly when the divorcing couple agrees on property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. When one or both spouses challenge any of these matters, the divorce becomes contested.
The process will proceed to trial unless the soon-to-be ex-spouses can come to an agreement. Sometimes mediation or another alternative dispute resolution process may be used to help them come to that agreement.
Common Grounds for Divorce
In Rhode Island, you do not have to prove fault in order to get a divorce. Most divorces today, in fact, are no-fault, or nominal, divorces. There are, however, some divorces where one spouse must or prefer––for strategic reasons––to show fault. In this case, a trial may be necessary.
When a marriage is deemed irretrievably broken or the spouses claim there are irreconcilable differences, a no-fault divorce may be sought. An irretrievably broken marriage simply means the couple is unable or refuses to cohabit, and no prospects for reconciliation exist.
Fault-based divorces are not required today, and generally avoided, but some people may still wish to pursue a fault-based divorce for a number of reasons, like using it as a factor to obtain a better outcome for:
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Child custody
The grounds for a fault-based divorce typically include things like:
- Adultery, the other spouse had an affair during the marriage
- Abandonment, the other spouse has physically left or has refused to engage in sexual relations for at least one year
- Cruel and inhuman treatment, the other spouse makes it unsafe or improper to live with them
- Felony conviction, the other spouse has been in prison for at least three consecutive years
- Substance abuse, the other spouse has an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs
- Other additions such as gambling or excessive spending or waste of marital assets.
Fault-based divorces are far more contentious. They can in some cases lead to better outcomes in property distribution, alimony, child support, and custody arrangements for the spouse who filed for the dissolution of the marriage.
Property division is a key part of any divorce and involves marital property. Marital property is property acquired or obtained during the marriage as opposed to separate property that the spouse had prior to the marriage.
Types of marital property include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment property
- Vehicles, boats
- Retirement accounts
In Rhode Island, spouses are entitled to an equitable distribution or the marital estate. Equitable means assets are divided fairly and not necessarily equally.
Spousal Support in Rhode Island
Spousal support, also commonly referred to as alimony, is considered rehabilitative in Rhode Island and not awarded as often as it was in the past. Its purpose is to make sure the divorce does not result in an unfair economic situation for the dependent spouse. The couple can agree to alimony or the court can order it. Decisions about alimony are made based on many factors, but the more common factors include:
- Health (physical, mental, emotional)
- Potential to earn
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Length of the marriage
- Difference between earning capacities
Child Custody in Rhode Island
Child custody is one of the most contentious areas of a divorce. It's highly emotional and can cause serious bitterness. Courts prefer both parents being equally involved in a child's life and, as such, accommodate joint custody, which includes physical and legal custody. In some rare situations, one parent may have sole custody while the other may have visitation rights. Courts determine child custody based on what is in the child's best interest.
Child Support in Rhode Island
Both parents are required to provide financial support for their children. The Court will order the parties complete a statement of asset and liabilities form which will be used to calculate child support. The amount of child support is calculated using the current Rhode Island Child Support Guideline formula. The Child Support Guideline formula assigns an amount deemed appropriate for the support of the child or children based upon the income of the parties. The parties are each responsible for a percentage of that amount based upon their respective incomes. The Child Support Guideline formula is technical and should be calculated by an attorney like Melissa Larsen, Esq. who has extensive experience with the guidelines and can advise you how to maximize the child support you are entitled to receive for the care and support of your minor child or children.
Contact Divorce Attorney Melissa Larsen, Esq. Island Today
There's a lot to consider when you are going through a divorce. The decisions made during this time will impact you and your family's life permanently. It's important to get guidance from an experienced family law attorney who will advocate for you and your family. Contact Melissa Larsen, Esq. online or call or text directly directly at 401-218-0862 to schedule a free initial 15 minute consultation.