Divorce Big Picture
In Rhode Island, there are four general categories of issues that your lawyer will deal with in your divorce, namely: Children, Division of Marital Estate, Alimony, and Temporary Issues. Understanding these categories will help break down the process, and help you understand where things you think are important fit in.
Children: There are several sub-parts to the children category and they are: Custody, placement, visitation, support, and medical coverage. A primer on what the court considers in solving child issues may be found in the FAQS section.
Division of Marital Estate: The first step is to identify the marital assets and/or debt. Issues such as inheritance, pre-marital assets, are relevant here. In the next step, the assets and/or debt must be valued. Bank statements, appraisals, credit card statements, and the like help here. Finally, after determining what is divided, and its value (positive or negative), the assets must be divided. The rule of thumb is to assume a 50/50 division and vary off of that based on certain factors that may apply, such as fault (i.e. affairs, abuse, etc.) The statutory factors used in determining division of assets may be found in the FAQS section.
Alimony: Factors such as length of marriage, ability of each party to pay support, and the needs of each party are relevant here, amongst other factors. The court makes a decision regarding alimony only after making its decision regarding the division of the marital estate first. In RI, alimony is considered “rehabilitative,” and thus, it is not awarded simply due to unequal incomes. Any lawyer seeking alimony must have a plan for their client to use the funds to “rehabilitate” themselves. As an example: completing an education, or time in employment to get a promotion.
Temporary issues: Often, issues such as placement of children, support, restraining orders, and use of assets (who lives in the home) need to be handled prior to the final hearing on divorce. These are considered “temporary” issues.