Rhode Island Alimony and Spousal Support Laws

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Rhode Island law allows the parties to a divorce to seek support payments during the dissolution proceedings. The spousal support or alimony is granted only when the court determines the circumstances of the parties make it necessary.

Types of Spousal Support

  • Temporary – a temporary award of alimony prior to the final dissolution, granted when needed.
  • Short-Term – an award of alimony for a limited period of time, granted to allow one spouse the opportunity to gain new skills or employability.
  • Long-Term or Permanent – an award of alimony for a long period of time, usually for lengthy marriages.

Who is Eligible for Alimony in Rhode Island

A husband or wife seeking a divorce in Rhode Island may seek alimony as part of the dissolution decree. The court will decide based on the needs and status of the parties whether to award support.

Rhode Island Alimony Guidelines (Factors for Awarding Alimony)

A Rhode Island court will consider the following factors in determining an alimony award:

  • Duration of the marriage;
  • Marital misconduct;
  • Health condition, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, job skills, and employability of the parties;
  • State, liabilities and needs of each party;
  • Whether or not a party is capable of being self-supporting;
  • Extent to which a party was absent from employment while fulfilling homemaking responsibilities;
  • Time and expense required for the supported spouse to acquire education or training to develop marketable skills and find appropriate employment;
  • The probability of completing education or training and becoming self-supporting;
  • Standard of living established during marriage;
  • Opportunity of either party for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
  • Ability to pay of the supporting spouse, taking into account earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, debts, and standard of living; and
  • Any other factor which the court finds just and proper.

Reasons for Termination or Modification of Alimony in Rhode Island

Support can be ordered by a Rhode Island court for a limited amount of time or for a longer period of time, in a lump sum or installments depending on the circumstances and interests of justice. The court will decide length of alimony based on the parties’ unique situation.

Marital Fault in Rhode Island

Rhode Island law allows for both no fault and fault-based divorce. The court may consider fault in determining an alimony award. No fault reasons for divorce are irreconcilable differences of the parties and living separately for three years minimum. Fault reasons for divorce include (but are not limited to):

  • Impotency;
  • Adultery;
  • Extreme cruelty;
  • Willful desertion for 5 years or for a shorter period if the court believes it is a valid amount of time to terminate a marriage.
  • Continued drunkenness; and
  • Drug abuse.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island divorce courts determine alimony depending on the specific circumstances of the parties to a divorce. The duration of support payments will depend on factors such as the length of your marriage.

Rhode Island Alimony Taxes

Alimony may be claimed as a federal income tax deduction by the paying spouse. Likewise, the payee spouse must claim alimony as income. A tax or family law attorney can advise you of your rights and the best way to structure your alimony for tax purposes.

Find an Alimony Attorney in Rhode Island

To protect your assets and your rights during divorce, it is wise to discuss your situation with an attorney. A Rhode Island family law attorney will help you through the complexities of the legal process.

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