Rhode Island Property Division Factors

In Rhode Island, the property and debt issues are typically settled between the parties by a signed Marital Settlement Agreement or the property award is actually order and decreed by the Family Court within the Final Judgment of Divorce.

Rhode Island is referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. When the parties are unable to reach a settlement, the Family Court will take the following approach to dividing the assets; First, it will go through a discovery process to classify which property and debt is to be considered marital. Next, it will assign a monetary value on the marital property and debt. Last, it will distribute the marital assets between the two parties in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is deemed by the Family Court to be fair.

The following will be considered by the court when making a property award: (A) The duration 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; (I) The contribution by one party to the education, training, licensure, business, or increased earning power of the other; (J) The need of the custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence and to use or own its household effects taking into account the best interests of the children of the marriage; (K) Either party’s wasteful dissipation of assets or any transfer or encumbrance of assets made in contemplation of divorce without fair consideration; and (L) Any factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper. (General Laws of Rhode Island - Title 15 , Chapter 15-5-16.1)

Since Rhode Island is an "Equitable Distribution" state, all marital property will be divided in an equitable fashion according to the court unless agreed to otherwise by the divorcing spouses. What does "equitable" mean? Equitable can be defined as "what is fair, not necessarily equal." To automatically believe the marital property would be divided 50-50 would be a wrong assumption in any equitable distribution state. You can also read more about Rhode Island property division in the Rhode Island state statutes located at: