How Infidelity Affects Divorce In RI

How Infidelity Affects Divorce In RI

How Infidelity Affects Divorce in RI

Wondering where to turn after infidelity in your marriage? Attorney Paul J. Ferns is here for you.

It’s everyone’s worst nightmare—discovering that your partner hasn’t been faithful in your marriage. Infidelity can throw a marriage into irredeemable turmoil and chaos. It’s one of the number one causes of divorce in Rhode Island. But how does infidelity affect your divorce proceedings? Read on to learn more about your divorce rights after adultery.

Is adultery a cause for divorce in Rhode Island? Rhode Island divorce laws explained

Yes. There are two types of divorce in Rhode Island: at-fault divorce and no-fault divorce. Infidelity is one of several causes for an at-fault divorce in Rhode Island. Other grounds for divorce in RI include:
  • Impotency
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Willful desertion
  • Alcoholism or substance abuse
  • Neglect or refusal

However, you will need to provide direct evidence that your spouse has been having an affair. This usually means clear and unambiguous photographs, videos, or audio recordings of your spouse engaging in adulterous activity. Unsurprisingly, such evidence can be very difficult to obtain. This is why many people choose to take advantage of Rhode Island’s status as a no-fault divorce state when separating from an unfaithful spouse.

Is adultery a crime in Rhode Island?

Technically, yes. Although most states have decriminalized adultery, Rhode Island is one of 20 states that still consider adultery to be a crime. Adultery is a misdemeanor under Rhode Island law, which states that spouses caught engaging in adulterous affairs can be subject to a fine of up to $500. In reality, this law is rarely prosecuted, and many consider it to be outdated.

No-fault divorce and infidelity

To obtain a no-fault divorce in Rhode Island, the person filing only needs to cite “irreconcilable differences”, leading to the irreversible breakdown of the marriage. However, this doesn’t mean that adultery won’t have a part to play later on. Even in a no-fault divorce, infidelity can affect things like property division, alimony, child support and even child custody.

If you’re unsure how to proceed with your divorce filings, contact a lawyer like Paul Ferns for help. He can explain how each method of divorce applies to your situation and advise you on the best course of action.

How does infidelity affect alimony?

A judge will consider both spouse’s conduct during the marriage when determining the length and amount of alimony payments, including any extramarital affairs. However, it’s incorrect to assume that a judge will use alimony payments as a way to punish an unfaithful spouse. Alimony is not meant to “equalize” finances in a divorce.

According to Rhode Island alimony laws, alimony is a purely rehabilitative tool. The purpose of alimony in RI is to get an unemployed or lower-earning spouse back on their feet after time outside the workforce. It’s not automatically awarded to an unemployed or lower-earning spouse. You must prove that you have a need for alimony payments to obtain them in court. While infidelity can sometimes influence a judge’s decision, it’s ultimately just one of many factors.

How does infidelity affect child custody and child support?

As with alimony payments, adultery does not usually affect a judge’s decision on custody or child support. Most RI family court judges only care about one thing: the best interest of the children. They will not bar an unfaithful spouse from seeing their children or assign higher child support payments as a “punishment”. Family courts generally believe that the continued involvement of both parents is in the best interest of children.

However, judges will take the “moral fitness” of both parents into account in their rulings. If one parent neglected or put their children at risk while carrying on an extramarital affair, then that parent’s custody or visitation rights will likely be impacted.

How does infidelity affect property division?

There are two basic frameworks for how states divide property in a divorce, equitable division and community property. Rhode Island is an equitable division state, meaning that the court will equitably divide all marital property between both spouses. That doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split.

Judges will take multiple factors into account when determining what an equitable share of the property is for each spouse, including the conduct of each spouse during the marriage. Infidelity can absolutely influence how a judge chooses to award property in a divorce. If the unfaithful spouse used marital assets to fund their affair, such as paying for hotel rooms gifts, or other expenses with a shared bank account, the judge may be less likely to award that spouse a higher share of the marital assets.

Settling things out of court

It’s also worth noting that a judge’s rulings are not the only way to settle a divorce. If you’ve chosen to file for a no-fault divorce, you have the option of settling matters with your spouse via out-of-court negotiations. Judges will typically honor any arrangements on alimony, child support, custody, and property division that the couple can come to on their own, provided that it won’t negatively affect any minor children involved. This is called an uncontested divorce, and it’s often much quicker and easier than drawing things out in the courtroom.

However, this process involves careful negotiation with your former spouse and complete agreement on what all terms of your divorce will be. This can be next to impossible when betrayal is still fresh and emotions run high. That’s why it helps to have a dedicated Rhode Island divorce attorney at your side to help you negotiate.

Who’s the best lawyer for Rhode Island divorce?

If you’re struggling to file a divorce after infidelity, call Paul Ferns. Attorney Ferns can be the calm presence you need in this hectic and chaotic time. His clients always appreciate the rational, measured approach he brings to divorce negotiations. And if you’re filing for an at-fault divorce instead, he can fight for your rights in Kent or Washington County family court. Check out the Providence RI Family Court website for more information. Whatever the particulars of your situation, he’ll help you through it with compassion and integrity. Call his office now for a free consultation.

It’s ok, you’re in good hands.