Spousal Support

Spousal support has evolved a great deal in the last few decades, yet there are still certain misconceptions about how it works in Rhode Island. The first and most important thing to understand about our state’s spousal support system is this: either spouse can be ordered to pay or receive spousal support. In other words, you shouldn’t assume that you will get any certain orders based on your role as husband or wife.

So, How Is Support Determined?

When a marriage dissolves, a number of adjustments must be made by each person involved. Spousal support is simply a tool meant to help each spouse work their way toward healthy financial independence. As a result, the court looks closely at the following in order to determine a fitting arrangement:

Income and Ability to Work

If there’s a substantial difference between the earnings of each spouse, the judge may order the spouse with the greater income to supplement the other during a specified adjustment period. Along that same thread, the judge will consider each spouse’s ability to work when determining just how long that adjustment period should be.

Marital Assets

Income aside, the court must also consider the assets you’ve collected throughout the course of your marriage — property, vehicles, stocks, bonds, pensions, insurance, and self-run businesses, to name a few. Each asset has its own unique value, so the manner in which assets are divvied up varies greatly from one case to another.

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Overall Debt

In addition to assigning support payments, the judge must also assign debt obligations. For instance, if one spouse earns far less income than the other, they may be awarded more in assets and very little in terms of debt.

Reasons for Separation

Among the grounds for divorce in Rhode Island are adultery, abuse, neglect, desertion, cruelty, living separately, and irreconcilable differences. If it appears that one spouse was more at fault than the other for their separation, the victimized spouse could easily receive more in the way of spousal support.

Custody of Children

In Rhode Island, children’s needs weigh heavily in any family law matter. If you and your ex have a child or children, the judge will take steps to ensure that their needs are met financially and otherwise. That includes making adjustments to a spousal support arrangement in order to secure a stable environment for them.

Age and Physical Health of Each Spouse

Many (if not most) spousal support arrangements are based on what we call a “rehabilitative support” system. This means that one spouse receives support for a set amount of time in order to help him or her reach of level of self-sufficiency. In other scenarios, one spouse may be elderly, disabled, or seriously ill. Under those circumstances, that spouse may be granted lifetime spousal support.

Rhode Island Spousal Support Attorney

When it comes to divorce and all the legal hurdles that come with it, it’s easy to get wrapped up with “winning” your case. In reality, though, the awarding of spousal support is a matter of negotiation — one that I can help you with. Before you do anything else, please call me for a free, informative consultation so we can strategize the best way to get your needs met.