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How Do Courts Divide Assets in a Rhode Island Divorce?

The issue of how a couple’s assets and liabilities are divided up is one of the most contentious issues in many Rhode Island divorces. Indeed, it is not as simple as merely dividing everything in half. Instead, Rhode Island uses an equitable distribution model when determining what each spouse is entitled to after a divorce is finalized.

Typically, an equitable distribution framework consists of three parts. First, a court must determine which assets are considered marital property. Importantly, nonmarital assets are subject to equitable distribution. However, the determination of whether something is a marital or nonmarital asset is not always straightforward.

Marital Versus Nonmarital Property

Generally speaking, most assets acquired during a marriage are marital property. However, inheritance, gifts, and proceeds from lawsuits are not typically considered marital property even if they are received during the marriage. Thus, in a recent Rhode Island divorce case the court determined that a car that was purchased during the marriage with funds that Wife was gifted by her parents before the marriage was not marital property subject to equitable distribution. The court also determined that a subsequent gift from Wife’s parents to Wife was considered nonmarital property although it was deposited in the couple’s joint bank account.

Rhode Island Equitable Distribution Factors

Once the court has determined which assets are marital property, the court must then consider the factors outlined in Rhode Island General Laws section 15-5-16.1. There are eleven enumerated factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties’ conduct during the marriage, the health and age of the parties, the occupation and employability of the parties, as well as either party’s wasteful dissipation of marital assets. Additionally, there is a “catch-all” provision, allowing a court to consider “any factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.” Thus, a court presiding over a Rhode Island divorce can consider a wide range of factors when conducting an equitable distribution analysis.

Only after the court considers each of the applicable factors in section 15-5-16.1 will the court divide the couple’s assets. Once a court makes its determination, that decision will remain final unless it can be shown that the judge failed to consider a one or more of the factors contained in section 15-5-16.1.

Are You in the Process of a Rhode Island Divorce?

If you are in the process of filing for a Rhode Island divorce, or are contemplating a separation, contact the dedicated Rhode Island divorce attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we represent individuals in a wide range of Rhode Island family law matters, including divorces, child custody modification hearings, and spousal support matters. We provide a unique form of client-centered representation that always puts the interests of our clients up front, where they belong. To learn more about how we can help you through the situation you are currently going through, call 401-300-4055 to schedule a free consultation today.

See Related Posts:

The Importance of Understanding a Rhode Island Auto Insurance Policy, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, January 21, 2019.

Rhode Island Intestate Laws and the Importance of Drafting a Will, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 28, 2018.

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