Rhode Island Child Custody Laws

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For parents in the midst of a divorce or separation, determining child custody is one of the more crucial decisions that must be made. Child custody laws are not always easy to understand, mainly because they tend to vary from state to state. In Rhode Island, child custody laws might not be very different from those in other states, but if your case will take place in this state, you'll want to be sure to educate yourself on the laws specific to this state. Here is some information that you should be aware of in regards to Rhode Island child custody laws.

Factors in determining child custody

A number of family-related factors are taken into consideration as a child custody case is going on.  Rhode Island laws favor arrangements in which the children will live under a stable roof, meaning that the children should live in an environment that is comfortable and accommodating. A stressful environment where basic necessities and adequate parental supervision are not readily present will not be deemed as a good fit for the kids. Rhode Island laws will also examine the relationships each parent his with their children. A parent who demonstrates having a loving, affectionate relationship with their children is going to be favored to have more parental responsibilities. The mental and physical wellness of the parents will also be examined in a child custody case. If a parent is not healthy enough to care for the children on their own, this will be factor into the case. The wellness of each child will also be considered. If a child has health issues that call for constant attention, more parental rights may be granted to the parent who is more fit to take on this added responsibility.

Other factors are considered in this process as well, such as the wishes of the children and each parent. Parents should demonstrate their desire for custody by sharing their wishes with the court while also showing consistent affection and an ableness to be responsible for their kids when they are with them. In rare cases, a parent may not want to have parenting responsibilities after divorce, so if they demonstrate this to the court, they likely will not receive much in terms of custody. Rhode Island child custody laws do prefer arrangements in which both parents are able to maintain and grow their relationships with the children, so other arrangements will only be made if truly necessary. If joint parenting responsibilities suits the children well and is also desired by the whole family, it will likely be worked into the custody order in some form or another.

Types of child custody in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, both legal custody and physical placement are to be determined in every child custody case. Legal custody refers to a parent's responsibility towards making decisions for their child on important matters that affect a child's life. These may include decisions about schooling, health care and religious education. Legal custody will stand apart from both physical placement and decisions about child support. Physical placement, on the other hand, does have an impact on child support payments. Physical placement refers to where the child will reside, either entirely with one parent or shared between the two. If a child has sole physical placement with one parent, the other parent may be granted visitation. In this case, child support payments may be made from the part with visitation to the other parent. Determining the actual total of these payments will take into consideration custody time, the income of each parent, the financial needs of caring for a child or children, and more. Examining the best interests of the children using the previously discussed factors will be what determines the outcome of these issues. 

While this information is meant to inform you of things you may expect in regards to child custody laws in Rhode Island, but none of it should be considered as legal advice. Seek help from an attorney who specializes in family law to assist you in understanding these laws and how they may affect your case in Rhode Island. For family law resources near you, check out our Resources page for Rhode Island. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.