Working with an experienced divorce attorney will help you minimize stress, negotiate a fair and equitable outcome and mitigate your financial risk. Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law, is one of Rhode Island’s best divorce lawyers. For 35 years, he’s represented clients throughout Warwick to obtain the best divorce settlement or judgment possible.
Divorce in Rhode Island
Getting divorced is never easy, even if you and your spouse both agree that it’s time to end the marriage, but without an experienced divorce attorney, the process can be exceptionally difficult. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married, whether or not you have children, or if you have a complicated financial situation, divorce is one of life’s most challenging experiences, regardless of the circumstances.
- Residency requirements
To obtain a divorce in Rhode Island, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least one year before filing for divorce. There are two divorce tracks – contested and uncontested. Your divorce attorney can help you determine which track is best for you.
-Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces
In an uncontested divorce, you and your soon-to-be-ex agree on essential issues involved in your divorce, including:
- How to divide your assets and liabilities (real estate property, retirement funds, the family home, pension or 401ks, etc.)
- Child support and custody
In a contested divorce, you and your spouse disagree on at least one of the matters listed above. Contested divorces typically last longer and cost more than uncontested divorces as they require mediation and, in rare cases, litigation.
- Divorce Attorney for Uncontested Case?
It’s possible to handle an uncontested divorce without a divorce attorney, but it’s very risky unless you literally have nothing to lose. For a thorough discussion on when and why you should hire a divorce attorney check out my blog, Is It Worth Getting A Divorce Lawyer?
- Grounds for Divorce in Rhode Island
Rhode Island is a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither party is required to prove fault to obtain a divorce. Instead, you and your spouse can file for a divorce under the grounds of “irreconcilable differences.” This term is a catch-all used to describe a couple who can’t get along and no longer wishes to be married.
While no fault is necessary to file for a divorce in Rhode Island, fault can come into play in determining the division of assets, child support, child custody and placement, and in some cases, alimony. Fault cases are extremely difficult to litigate without an experienced divorce attorney. Fault grounds include the following:
- Physical and emotional abuse
- Desertion of either spouse for more than five years or for less time at the discretion of the court
- Addiction including alcohol addiction and continued drunkenness or chronic drug use, including morphine, chloral, or opium
- Neglect/refusal of the husband to provide necessities for the subsistence of his wife for one year before filing for divorce
- Behavior by either spouse that constitutes gross misbehavior and wickedness and is considered a violation of the marriage covenant
Even though the Rhode Island Family Court recognizes fault in divorces in certain situations, the vast majority of divorces handled now are no-fault divorces classified as “irreconcilable differences.”
- Equitable Distribution vs. 50/50
Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state. If your marriage has a lot of assets, this is another time when it is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer as equitable distribution is necessarily more complicated than a 50/50 split. While assets and liabilities may be split 50/50 and often are, the court considers a variety of factors to determine a fair distribution, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The behavior of both spouses during the marriage
- The health of both spouses
- The employment status and level of each spouse
- The best interest of the children, if the couple has children
In its final determination, the court also considers any debts, liabilities, tax implications, and other issues important in the division of assets.
It’s important to remember that “equitable distribution” does not mean that assets are divided equally down the middle. So, for example, while the court may determine that marital assets should be divided 50/50, they might also consider other arrangements such as 60/40 or 55/45.
* Assets and liabilities subject to equitable distribution
- Real estate property
- Personal property
- 401k and other retirement plans
- Family businesses
- And more
* Assets and liabilities not subject to equitable distribution
- Monetary gifts such as an inheritance granted to one spouse after a family member dies
- Personal injury settlements awarded to one spouse
- Property or assets acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage
- Alimony and Spousal Support - Ask Your Divorce Attorney
The terms alimony and spousal support are interchangeable and used to describe one spouse (the primary breadwinner, regardless of gender) supporting the lesser earning spouse during and sometimes after the divorce for a certain period of time. Alimony is another area in which the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney is essential.
In most cases, spousal support is awarded temporarily in Rhode Island. Alimony or spousal support is viewed as a rehabilitative measure to help the lesser-earning spouse get back on sound financial footing following a career hiatus. This economic boost is intended to help the spouse for a predetermined time during their career search.
Alimony, in the traditional sense, that is, financial support that lasts for years after a divorce is no longer common. Still, in some cases depending on the health or age of the lesser earning spouse, long-term spousal support could be awarded. For specific questions about your divorce, contact Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law
- Child Custody and Placement
Divorce is tough on both parents and kids. If you’re anxious about what your family’s future will look like after your divorce, you’re not alone. While every case is unique and this article does not replace legal advice, sometimes just understanding what a “typical” child custody arrangement in Rhode Island looks like can help decrease your anxiety.
The standard child custody arrangement in Rhode Island is for parents to have joint custody of the children. Typically one spouse is awarded physical placement, and the other parent has visitation. The parents usually agree upon this determination in an uncontested divorce. Joint custody gives both parents the right to have a say in the upbringing of the children and weigh in on important matters such as medical emergencies.
In some cases, the court may award sole custody to one parent. In this case, the child lives with the custodial parent (the parent with sole custody) full-time, but the other parent has visitation with the child. When parents can’t agree on child custody, a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court. This person acts as an unbiased professional to help determine what’s in the child’s best interest. Another option for couples unable to work together or agree on child custody is mediation. The mediation process may or may not involve a guardian ad litem.
- Calculating Child Support
Rhode Island divorce laws dictate that the non-custodial spouse (the spouse with visitation) must make child support payments to the custodial parent for the child. The final amount of child support is determined by a calculation that considers each spouse’s adjusted gross monthly income, minus other expenses such as child support for other children, health expenses, daycare, and other monthly debts.
One of the best things you can do before filing a motion is to retain a divorce attorney. Your lawyer will help you understand what to expect and how to navigate the process.
To begin receiving child support, you or your spouse must file a motion for child support with the Rhode Island family court. To start the process, you’ll complete a “Statement of Assets, Liabilities, Income, and Expenses,” often referred to as a DR-6. The form is cumbersome but the family court requires it and both parents must fill it out.
Divorce Attorney- Do I Really Need One?
How much your divorce costs depends on several factors—the biggest being how willing you and your spouse are to work together towards a fair outcome. Emotions run high during a divorce. When children are involved, the stakes feel even higher. While there are many times you might feel angry or vindictive, fighting tooth and nail over every issue will substantially increase your legal fees, and the time it takes to settle your divorce.
It can be tempting to try to save money by representing yourself in a divorce. However, while you might save money in the short term, the potential long-term financial consequences of self-representation could cost you thousands.