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Rhode Island Supreme Court Affirms Father’s Custody and Visitation Rights

Divorces and custody cases in Rhode Island can be some of the most contentious and protracted proceedings that are heard by state courts. The intense emotion and resentment between parties in family law disputes often lead cases down a dark road where the best interests of any children at issue seem distant from the actual arguments taking place in court. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently ruled on an appeal of a custody order that gave a father joint custody of his child, while finding the mother in contempt for interfering with his visitation.

The plaintiff in the recently decided case is the father of a six-year-old boy who sought partial custody and visitation with the child from the defendant, the mother of the child. According to the facts discussed in the judicial opinion, the mother claimed throughout the proceedings that the father suffered from psychological issues and was not able to safely be with the child one-on-one. After a trial that lasted nearly two years, the family court ultimately awarded the parties joint custody of the child, with the mother as the primary caretaker, and the father having reasonable visitation. In spite of the court order, the mother continued to refuse the father meaningful parent time with the child alone, ultimately leading to the family court holding her in contempt.

The mother appealed both the family court’s judgment and the contempt order to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, arguing that the court’s judgment was erroneous. The Supreme Court upheld the lower courts rulings, noting and applying the factors that Rhode Island law considers when determining child custody: (1) the wishes of the child’s parents; (2) the reasonable preference of the child; (3) the interaction and relationship of the child to the parents; (4) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (5) the mental and physical health of the individuals involved; (6) the stability of the child’s home life; (7) the moral fitness of the parents; and (8) the willingness of each parent to facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent. Finding that the decision to give the father joint custody and reasonable parent time considered and properly applied the relevant factors, the high court affirmed the family court’s ruling.

Considering the issue of the mother’s contempt, the high court praised the father’s perseverance and grit in fighting for a relationship with his son, and condemned the mother’s behavior in attempting to cut the father out of the boy’s life. The mother’s decision to ignore the orders of the family court was seen as disrespectful, and would not be allowed without consequences. The family court’s finding of contempt and application of sanctions against the mother was therefore upheld

How to Effectively Pursue a Custody Case in Rhode Island

Custody cases and divorces can get ugly, and angry or emotional parents are often unwilling to cooperate without the full force of the courts in enforcing their orders. In the event of a difficult custody dispute, parents must consider retaining a skilled and effective Rhode Island family law attorney to advise and represent them and their case, in order to ensure their relationship with their children and protect the children’s well-being. The experienced Rhode Island divorce and custody attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo are dedicated to compassionately representing loving parents throughout their legal cases, and with our effective representation, you can be confident that the results of your case will be fair and in line with the law. Call us at 401-300-4055 to schedule a free consultation with a qualified Rhode Island family law attorney and discuss your case.

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