Articles Posted in Alimony

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Courts that are tasked with a fair and equitable property division as part of a divorce proceeding must consider many factors when dividing a marital estate. In marriages where one of the parties maintain a significantly higher earning ability than the other after the divorce, simply dividing the existing marital assets 50/50 may not be fair or equitable. In these situations, Rhode Island courts are entitled to award alimony to the lesser-earning spouse to help equalize the economic outcomes of the parties in the years following the divorce.

Alimony is not automatically awarded to a divorcing spouse as a matter of course. Prior to filing for divorce, a party who desires alimony must ensure the request is included in their divorce filings, or they may forfeit the ability to receive alimony payments. When deciding to award alimony, Rhode Island courts consider several factors. These factors include the duration of the marriage, the current incomes of the parties, the income earning abilities of the parties, the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage, as well as each party’s contributions to the marriage.

Courts will be more likely to award significant alimony awards if they are persuaded that the receiving party contributed to a marriage of significant duration, and would be unable to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage without an alimony award, If the paying party is able to afford alimony payments while not significantly sacrificing their own standard of living, then an award would be fair and appropriate.

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Divorces are famous for bringing out the worst in people. Now, with rapid growth and innovation in technology, ex-spouses sometimes use these new products in ways that can hurt them in family court. In an attempt to gather evidence, people going through a divorce or considering one are using apps and programs to track each other and get recordings and other evidence to potentially use in court. However, many of these tactics are illegal, and even the ones that are not may hurt your case in family court.  An experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney can help you with your case and make sure that you have safeguards in place so that your former spouse cannot gather any information without your knowledge. They can also help you stay within the law and refrain from doing anything that will damage your position.

What is Legal?

Divorce lawyers in Rhode Island have noticed that many of their clients are putting tracking devices in each other’s cars or using apps like the “find my iphone” app to keep tabs on each other. The ubiquity and relative inexpensiveness of these devices has made it much more common for divorcing partners to find out information about each other. Parents are also putting devices like cameras or location tracking on their kids when the children are with the other parent. While the separated individuals may think these tactics will give them evidence that will help them in court, that’s often not the case, and it’s easy to run afoul of the law.

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After twenty three years together, an East Providence couple decided to separate. Now that they have broken up, a court is trying to determine if they were in a common-law marriage. We tend to think of marriage in black and white terms: either you’re married or you’re not. But it may not be that simple in Rhode Island.

Common-Law Marriage

In most states this would be pretty straightforward, and the court would look to whether there was a marriage license. However, Rhode Island is one of only a few states that recognizes common law marriage. In order to determine whether a common law marriage exists, many people think there is a specific number of years together that must be met. That’s not true. Rather, the court looks all the relevant factors to determine whether there was a “present mutual intent to be married.” In other words, do both parties consider themselves married to one another? Do they live their lives like they are married and hold themselves out to others as a married couple? A Rhode Island family law attorney will be able to explain all the ins and outs of this unique area of family law.

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In the mid-1980s, an ex-husband challenged the trial court’s finding that he was at fault for the dissolution of his marriage and the court’s award to the ex-wife of his interest in the marital home, rehabilitative alimony, and her attorney fees. This Rhode Island Supreme Court case is an important holding regarding rehabilitative alimony, and in Rhode Island family law.

The trial court awarded the wife an absolute divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences and the husband’s extreme cruelty. The court further awarded the wife custody of their minor child, assigned to the wife the husband’s interest in the marital residence, ordered the husband to pay child support, and required the husband to pay alimony and his wife’s counsel fees. The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the judgment in part but remanded the case for further consideration with respect to the award of alimony. It further vacated the award of counsel fees.

The husband and the wife were married in the summer of 1959 and then had three children together. One of the three children was a minor at the time of the divorce proceedings. According to the testimony, the marriage started to fall apart in 1980. The wife filed for divorce and the parties separated pursuant to an ex parte restraining order issued against the husband.

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In 1991, the Rhode Island Supreme Court decided two important issues regarding alimony in Rhode Island divorce cases: (1) whether a family court can modify alimony obligations prescribed by a separation agreement, where the agreement has been incorporated by reference but not merged into a final judgment; and (2) whether the alimony under the judgment is modifiable despite the fact that the agreement’s alimony is nonmodifiable.

Plaintiff and Defendant were married in 1959 and decided to divorce in 1985. They agreed on the the distribution of the marital property and on their respective alimony obligations.

The parties obtained a final divorce judgment from the family court in June 1985. In paragraph 6 of the judgment, the family court found the agreement to be fair and equitable. The family court therefore incorporated by reference, but explicitly did not merge, the agreement into the judgment.

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