Rhode Island Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer
There is really no such thing as a “same-sex divorce lawyer.” We use the term to help people find our services because of our experience in the area. Generally, same-sex divorces in Rhode Island are no different than the divorces of opposite-sex couples. The differences mostly occur when the couple has a child or children but both parents are not the legal parents of one or more of the children.
There are some other issues that we will discuss below, but please consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to make sure you get the guidance you need. The specific facts of each case affects the outcome.
In August 2013, Rhode Island passed same-sex marriage and same-sex divorce laws. Rhode Island was certainly not the first state to recognize same-sex marriage, but the law came two-years before the landmark Supreme Court ruling (Obergefell v. Hodges) decision requiring all 50 states to legalize same-sex marriage.
Understanding the Divorce Process
Divorce is one of life’s most challenging situations. Aside from the emotional stress, the divorce process itself can feel complex or confusing at times. Throughout the process you’ll have many questions. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, even anxious at times. That’s true of any divorce. While you can’t avoid many of the unpleasant emotions that accompany divorce, you can reduce your anxiety by working with an experienced divorce lawyer.
In Rhode Island there are contested and uncontested divorces. An uncontested divorce is the ideal situation as it will typically save you time and money. Of course, you and your spouse must agree on many important factors which isn’t always possible. In cases where you do agree on everything relating to your divorce though, the uncontested route is far less emotionally and financially draining.
Basic Divorce Requirements
Most Rhode Island same-sex and opposite-sex divorces are based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Irreconcilable differences is an all-encompassing term for a marital breakdown that’s beyond repair. Other grounds for divorce include adultery, domestic violence of any kind—verbal, emotional or physical, substance abuse of drugs or alcohol, and desertion or living separate for more than 3 years.
To divorce in Rhode Island, either you or your spouse must have lived in Rhode Island for one-year. Even if one party lives outside of Rhode Island, you can still get divorced in Rhode Island as long as the other spouse has maintained residence in the state for a year. If Rhode Island is one spouse’s primary domicile (meaning it’s regarded as the principal home) you meet the residency requirement to file for a Rhode Island divorce.
Issues That May Arise in all Divorces
- Marital assets and debts
- Spousal support or alimony
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Health Insurance
When it comes to marital assets and debts the Rhode Island family court follows the guideline of fair and equitable division. This guideline says that assets and debts will be divided fairly and equitably between the spouses. It’s important to note that fair and equitable does not necessarily mean 50/50 division, though it usually does. Instead, the marital assets and property might be divided 60/40 for example, if one spouse’s economic situation is different than the others or if one of the spouse’s committed wrongdoing during the marriage.
Issues That May Arise in Same-Sex Divorces
- Parental Rights. Often, whether a child was adopted or born to one of the parties, only one person in the relationship is legally the parent. This can affect a party’s rights and obligations to the children. In Rhode Island the Family Court recognizes the rights of de facto parents, but the lack of a legal relationship with a child is always problematic when it comes to a dispute over custody, placement, visitation, etc.
- Length of Marriage. Many times, same-sex-couples have been together much longer than they have been legally married since same-sex marriage has not always been recognized. But one of the most important factors in making certain financial determinations in a divorce is the length of the marriage. That can result in an inequity. For instance, long marriages are more likely to result in awards of alimony.
- Prior Domestic Partnership. If the parties were in involved in a domestic partnership, they may need to dissolve that partnership in addition to getting a divorce. For the most part, if you had a domestic partnership in Rhode Island, it’s probably not going to be a problem. But if your domestic partnership is from another state it could require a separate legal process.
Let Me Help You...
Divorce is complicated and stressful enough and there are some issues particular to same-sex divorce that further complicates them. Don’t do it alone. One of the best choices you can make is to contact an experienced divorce lawyer. I’ve been litigating divorces in Rhode Island for 35 years. I’m committed to working with you and helping you navigate the same-sex divorce process with as little stress and anxiety as possible. Call, text or email me. I’d like to help.