Jurisdictions across the United States have different laws and traditions concerning how property is divided during a divorce. Generally, judges are not required to follow any strict formula for property division; however, the guidelines and laws offer factors for courts to consider in awarding property to each spouse. Rhode Island courts divide marital property using the doctrine equitable distribution, meaning a court divides marital property in a fair and equitable manner between the spouses, taking several factors into account to determine the equitable distribution for each spouse.
The division of marital property in Rhode Island is governed by state law, codified under R.I. GEN. LAWS § 15-5-16.1, which lists several factors for judges to consider in property division. These factors include the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, contributions from each party to the marital estate, the contributions of each party as a homemaker, the occupation and employability of each party, and the best interests of any children shared by the parties, among others factors.
In evaluating the conduct of the parties during the marriage, courts are allowed to consider any infidelity or abuse in making an equitable distribution of the marital assets. Additionally, financial misconduct by either party (wasteful dissipation of assets or hiding or encumbering assets in anticipation of divorce without equitable consideration) can be grounds for awarding more property to the other spouse.
Factors based on the needs and abilities of the spouse allow for courts to award more property to a spouse who has a greater need and less ability to earn. If a spouse is maintaining primary custody of the parties’ children, for example, they are more likely to be awarded the marital home, as it is in the best interests of the children to remain in their home.
In order to effectively distribute marital property in a fair and equitable manner, courts are given a great amount of discretion to rely on various factors in an attempt to make the best decision. Because courts have such discretion, it is important for a divorcing party to make a compelling and convincing case for the assets to be divided in a way that suits them. An effective Rhode Island divorce attorney can make the strongest case for their clients to be awarded the property that they are entitled to in a divorce
Are You Anticipating a Divorce?
If you or a loved one is separated or otherwise anticipating getting divorced, having a plan to ensure fair and equitable property distribution in your favor is extremely important. With the help of a skilled Rhode Island family law attorney from Bilodeau Capalbo, you can prevent your future ex-spouse from unfairly receiving more of the marital estate than they deserve. Our qualified divorce attorneys understand the factors considered by Rhode Island family courts, and we are able to ensure that our clients receive a fair share of the marital estate, as well as child support and alimony where applicable. Call us at 401-300-4055 to discuss your case and schedule a free consultation with a qualified Rhode Island family law attorney today.