Overview of Divorce in Rhode Island

Each state has its own divorce laws, with its own differences and intricacies. People looking to get divorced in Rhode Island need to make themselves familiar with some of the significant aspects of the divorce law in that state.

Residency Requirements for Divorce

A person must file for divorce in the correct place—if a court does not have jurisdictional rights to hear a divorce case, the case will not be accepted…or, it will eventually be dismissed at some point down the line. Therefore, it is essential to follow the residency requirements.

In order to file in Rhode Island, the plaintiff must have been a resident of the state for at least one year before filing the divorce complaint. Additionally, the complaint must be filed in the county in which the plaintiff resides (or the county in which the defendant lives, if the defendant meets the residency requirements).

Grounds for Divorce in Rhode Island

Both ‘no fault' and ‘fault' divorces may be granted in Rhode Island. For ‘no fault' divorces, the divorcing spouses must agree that there are either irreconcilable differences in the marriage or that they have been living apart for at least three years. For Rhode Island courts to grant a ‘fault' divorce, the filing spouse must prove one of the following to the court:

  • Impotency
  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion for at least five years of one spouse (some courts will allow a willful desertion of a shorter time frame to be used as this divorce grounds)
  • Gross wickedness and misbehavior in violation of the marriage covenant
  • Continued or habitual drunkenness
  • Habitual or excessive use of opium, morphine, or chloral
  • Neglect and refusal of the husband to provide necessities for his wife for at least one year, presuming that the husband is able to do so

Spousal Support

This is not an issue in every divorce, of course. However, it is involved in numerous divorces. When spousal support is a concern, Rhode Island courts consider the following when determining if either spouse should pay alimony—and, if so, how much should be paid.

  • Marriage length
  • Marital conduct of both spouses
  • Occupation and employability of each spouse
  • All sources of income
  • Needs and liabilities of each spouse
  • Ability of each spouse to support herself or himself adequately
  • Standard of living in the marriage

For more information about your specific situation, contact a divorce attorney near you.

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