Rhode Island Divorce Laws

Rhode Island Residency Requirements

To legally file for divorce in the state of Rhode Island individuals must first meet the residency requirements set by the state. These laws require that at least one or both individual reside in the state boundaries of Rhode Island for a minimum of one year prior to filing for divorce.

Divorce complaints may be filed by either individual. Since divorce cases are handled by the county circuit courts, divorces are to be filed to the county in which the filer resides. If both individuals file for divorce and both individuals reside within the state but in different counties, then the divorce request may be petitioned to either individual’s county of residency.

Divorce Grounds in Rhode Island

In order for a divorce to be legal in the United States, the petition must include the grounds for divorce. Grounds for divorce are the reasons why the individuals involved desire a legal divorce. However each state has different grounds for divorce, so the grounds from one state may not be legal in the state of Rhode Island.

One individual may petition the court under certain divorce grounds but will need to show evidence for these grounds before the court. Two individuals may petition for divorce and present the divorcing grounds as previously agreed upon.

Rhode Island divides its divorce grounds into two different categories: No-Fault grounds and Fault grounds. No-Fault grounds do not name one individual responsible for the divorce petition, instead both individual cite that no one is responsible. Marriage counseling often precedes divorce filing in these circumstances.

No-Fault grounds include two reasons for divorce: irreconcilable differences and no cohabitation. Irreconcilable differences state that both individuals agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Under no cohabitation grounds the individuals involved must live in separate living spaces for a minimum of three years prior to filing for divorce.

Fault grounds cite one individual responsible for the divorce filing and include eight different grounds under this category. These include committing adultery by either individual, impotency of either individual, extreme cruelty of either individual to the other, continued and extended drunken behavior of either individual, willingly deserting a spouse for a minimum of five years, habitual drug usage by either individual–including morphine, chloral, or opium–the committing of gross behavior by either individual that violates the covenant of marriage, or refusing and neglecting to provided the marital necessities for a minimum of one year, including financially, physically, and emotionally.

Under the grounds where a spouse is deserted by another, the court has the right to grant a divorce after a shorter time period than five years.

Property Distribution

The state of Rhode Island is considered an equitable distribution state where all property acquired during the marriage is to be distributed in an equitable manner. This means that the property will be awarded in a fair manner rather than an equal manner.

If the individuals involved cannot divide the property themselves, the court will award the property accordingly. The court will consider the financial situations of, the custody awarded to, and the economical situations of the individuals before awarding any property.

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