Alimony And Child Support

Alimony And Child Support

Alimony And Child Support

Rhode Island is not a very generous state when it comes to spousal support or alimony, but that does not mean it's impossible to get alimony, or that you shouldn't try to get it if you need it.

Here are a few things to know about getting – or avoiding – alimony in Rhode Island:
  • Spousal support is a rehabilitative tool. The Rhode Island alimony statute says it should be 'payable for a short, but specific and terminable period of time,' which ends when the recipient can support him or herself.
  • You must prove you have a need for alimony in Rhode Island. It's not automatically given to a lower-earning or non-earning spouse.
  • Spousal maintenance is not intended to equalize each person's income so it's not like property division, where each party is equal to half of the property. The court does look at standard of living.
  • In Rhode Island, either spouse can ask for alimony
  • Alimony could be ordered as a monthly payment or as a lump sum (although this is uncommon).
Will you need spousal support in order to get back on your feet? Are you worried you will be asked to pay more alimony than you can afford?

Talk to Paul Ferns, a Warwick alimony lawyer with more than 25 years experience bringing a calm, cooperative, yet firm approach to handling the issues ofdivorce and spousal support. Contact Paul J. Ferns online or call 401-714-5526 to schedule a free initial consultation.

What Factors Does a Judge Consider When Ordering Spousal Support in Rhode Island?

There are no hard and fast rules about spousal support or alimony, like there are with child support. The judge will look at several factors, including:
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age, health, and employability of both spouses
  • What the lower- or non-earning spouse needs in terms of training, education, or other skills to make themselves employable
  • How long it will take for that person to become self-supporting
  • The higher-earning spouse's income and ability to pay (factoring in child support obligations he or she has)
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Spousal conduct during the marriage is not a significant factor.

Who Is Most Likely to Get Rhode Island Spousal Support?

When support is ordered it's typically given to:
  • A home-making spouse who has been out of the workforce caring for a minor child. Although this spouse may have had a good education and a career, their skills may not be up-to-date. Alimony may be needed to renew a license, get additional training, or even shift careers.
  • A caregiving parent unable to work because of the needs of a severely disabled child.
  • A spouse who is temporarily or permanently disabled, especially if the marriage was long. In cases of disability, alimony could be indefinite, as long as the receiving spouse does not remarry.

Spousal Support and Child Support

Alimony and child support are not dependent on one another, but they can be inter-related. The couple – or the court – has to determine who will have custody of a child in order to understand a parent's ability to work and financial needs.

The judge also looks at a spouse's ability to pay. If the higher-income spouse is already paying child support for previous children, he or she may not have as much additional ability to pay spousal maintenance.

A Need Versus a Want?

The family court judge is concerned only with "necessary" expenses (while also considering standard of living):
  • Rent or mortgage
  • Taxes
  • Insurance - car, home, life
  • Food
  • Medical Expenses
  • Utilities
  • Vehicle Expenses
  • Job Training

Reaching Agreement

Spousal support can be decided by a family court judge, but it can also be decided between the two parties themselves, apart from the court in Rhode Island. It may be important to both parties that a parent be home with a small child or a disabled child, providing a high quality of care. A higher-earning spouse may want to provide assistance to help a non-earning spouse get back into employment, in exchange for moving through a divorce quickly.

When agreements can be reached outside of court, it saves everyone time and money. Attorney Ferns works to keep tensions low and cooperation high by treating all parties with courtesy and respectful.

Get the legal help you need and the caring, personal attention you deserve. You can count on attorney Ferns to be on your side, straightforward and honest in advising you on your case.

Contact the Warwick law office of Paul J. Ferns: 401-714-5526.

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