Rhode Island is a no-fault divorce state. This means that a fault ground is not required to obtain a divorce in RI. In order to get a divorce in Rhode Island, there must only be irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage. Even if the divorce is filed on the no fault grounds of irreconcilable differences, fault could be relevant to division of the marital assets, child custody and in some limited circumstances could be relevant to alimony determinations.
RI law § 15-5-3.1 is the applicable no fault law. The Rhode Island no-fault law is entitled: “Divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences.” The law states in pertinent part:
- “(a) A divorce from the bonds of matrimony shall be decreed, irrespective of the fault of either party, on the ground of irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
- (b) In any pleading or hearing for divorce under this section, allegations or evidence of specific acts of misconduct shall be improper and inadmissible, except for the purpose of making a determination pursuant to §§ 15-5-16 and 15-5-16.1, or where child custody is in issue and the evidence is relevant to establish that parental custody would be detrimental to the child, or at a hearing where it is determined by the court to be necessary to establish the existence of irreconcilable differences.” (editors note: 15-5-16 is the alimony statute and 15-5-16.1 is the equitable division of assets statute)
What are the fault grounds in Rhode Island to get a divorce?
Even though Rhode Island is a no fault state, litigants can still file a complaint for divorce based on fault grounds. A husband or wife could still file for divorce alleging one or more fault grounds. The fault grounds are set forth in RI Law § 15-5-2. Pursuant to RI Law § 15-5-2, the additional grounds (fault grounds) for divorce are set forth below:
(3) Extreme cruelty;
(4) Willful desertion for five (5) years of either of the parties, or for willful desertion for a shorter period of time in the discretion of the court;
(5) Continued drunkenness;
(6) The habitual, excessive, and intemperate use of opium, morphine, or chloral;
(7) Neglect and refusal, for the period of at least one year next before the filing of the petition, on the part of the husband to provide necessaries for the subsistence of his wife, the husband being of sufficient ability; and
(8) Any other gross misbehavior and wickedness, in either of the parties, repugnant to and in violation of the marriage covenant. § 15-5-2
No fault, irreconcilable differences divorce does not always mean fault is irrelevant
This post explains what no fault means in RI. No fault means that a fault ground is not required to obtain a divorce. No fault does not mean that fault is not significant part of a no fault, irreconcilable differences divorce in Rhode Island. The Rhode Island equitable distribution statute states that the conduct of the parties is a factor in how the court divides the marital assets.
Rhode Island is a “no fault state.” Is property divided 50 /50 in a divorce?
Property, assets and debts are not divided 50/50 in all divorces in Rhode Island. The vast majority of divorces in Rhode Island result in an equal split of the marital assets. In Rhode Island a “no fault” divorce, does not necessarily mean that the divorce litigation will constitute an uncontested divorce. If you are seeking a divorce in RI, contact a Rhode Island divorce lawyer.
Even in a “no fault divorce” divorce, fault could be very relevant.
Even in a no fault divorce, a husband or wife can seek a disproportional share of the marital assets pursuant to the Rhode Island 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.
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 Rhode Island Family Court finds that one party had an extra marital affair and that affair led to the breakdown of the marriage.
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.
- Divorce in RI
- no fault divorce pros and cons
- no fault divorce alimony
- no fault divorce states
- no fault states
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.” Find law
Many people are wondering the following:
- What is no fault divorce history?
- What is a no-fault divorce definition?
- How do I get a no-fault divorce states map?
- What states are no fault divorce states”
This divorce law article was authored by a Rhode Island divorce attorney.
Rhode Island Attorneys legal Notice per RI Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.