This divorce law article was authored by a Rhode Island divorce attorney. This post explains what no fault means in RI.
Rhode Island is a “no fault state”. Is property divided 50 /50 in a RI divorce ?
Property, assets and debts are not divided 50/50 in all divorces in Rhode Island. A vast majority of divorces in Rhode Island result in an equal split in the assets. No fault divorce in Rhode Island and Providence Plantations means that a litigant in Providence Family Court need not prove a fault basis in order to OBTAIN a divorce! Husband or Wife must prove only that there are irreconcilable differences that led to the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
Nothing prevents either party from seeking to prove fault grounds as a cause of the break-up of the union. Even if a divorce in Rhode Island is a “no fault” divorce, it does not necessarily mean that the divorce litigation will constitute an uncontested divorce cause of action.
Even in a “no fault divorce” divorce, fault could be very relevant.
How can this be true? Again, fault grounds relate to the reason for the divorce and the breakup of the marriage. Even in a no fault divorce, a husband or wife can seek a disproportional share of the marital assets pursuant to the equitable distribution statute. Fault is one of the numerous factors to determine how marital assets and debts are determined in Rhode Island. Typically, fault is only significant if it can be proven that it lead to the breakdown of the marriage. Fault MAY also be a very small factor to determine whether or not a husband or wife is entitled to spousal support / alimony in RI.
The following types of negative and deleterious behavior could be considered: alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic abuse and violence, criminal activity, cheating / affair, abusive behavior, gambling addiction, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial mismanagement, verbal abuse, abandonment, etc. People considering a divorce in Rhode Island should set up a free initial consultation with a Rhode island divorce lawyer.
What constitutes an uncontested divorce in RI?
An uncontested divorce in Providence Family Court or Kent County Family Court in Warwick is a divorce in which husband and wife agree to all issues involved in the cause of action including asset division, child custody (placement / legal custody), payment of marital debt, health insurance issues, child support, visitation, equitable division of the marital domicile (real estate) etc.
What does a no fault divorce mean in Rhode Island?
In certain states, it is required to establish fault to obtain an absolute divorce decree. Pursuant to RI divorce law, it is not required to prove fault grounds to get divorced. Irreconcilable differences is enough in Rhode Island. Irreconcilable differences can be anything from lack of communication, different goals and aspirations, affairs, domestic violence, arguing, fell out of love or actually anything. If husband or wife desires a divorce, they can get one so long as they meet the other divorce requirements in Rhode Island such as residency requirements.
Can Fault play a significant role in Rhode Island divorce?
Even though RI is a no fault law state, fault can play an important role in how the Providence Family Court equitably divides the assets and debts of the parties. After the Newport Family Court determines what assets are marital assets, then the Newport Family Court Justice will look at various factors to determine the equitable division of assets. The court may consider the following factors in determining equitable assignment of the property.
a) The length of the marriage;
b) The conduct of the parties during the marriage;
c) The contribution of each of the parties during the marriage in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates;
d) The contribution and services of either party as a homemaker;
e) The health and age of the parties;
f) The amount and sources of income of each of the parties
g) The occupation and employability of each of the parties;
h) The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income;- Source: R.I.G.L. 15-5-16.1 (Rhode Island General Laws) among other factors which are set forth in R.I.G.L. 15-5-16.1.
RI law states that the Providence Family Court can consider any factor which the court so expressly finds to be just and proper. Please note that in many cases the parties decide to divide the property 50% to the wife and 50% to the husband. One of the most important factors the Rhode Island Family Court judge will look at in granting the husband or wife a disproportionate share of the marital assets is if the other party had an affair, was emotionally or physically abusive or had substantial drug and alcohol problems. The court will also look at other negative conduct in awarding a disproportionate share of the marital assets. It is not uncommon for a judge to award a 60/40 or 55/45 distribution of marital assets in a divorce if the Family Court finds that one party had an extra marital affair and that affair led to the breakdown of the marriage.
According to findlaw on a national basis, “A no fault divorce refers to a type of divorce in which the spouse that is filing for divorce does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. All a spouse has to do is give any reason that the state honors for the divorce. The most commonly given reason is “irreconcilable differences” or an “irreparable breakdown of the marriage.” http://family.findlaw.com/divorce/an-overview-of-no-fault-and-fault-divorce-law.html