In a Rhode Island divorce, since many forms of property can be of financial, personal and sentimental value, it is no surprise that this is an area of contention for a large faction of couples. While there might be a preconceived notion that the courts will split the property in half, Rhode Island strives for fairness through equitable distribution. It is important to note that equitable does not mean equal. When getting a divorce, it is wise to be cognizant of the law for the assignment of property.
What does the court consider when dividing property?
The court will look at myriad factors when determining how to assign property. The duration for which the couple was married is one consideration. The court will assess how the parties behaved while they were married. Contributions with acquiring, preserving or the property increasing in value is important. If, for example, there was a business that one spouse owned at the start of the marriage, but it increased in value because of contributions from both, then this will weigh heavily in how it is divided with the non-owning spouse potentially getting a part of it.
Even if one spouse was a homemaker allowing the other to attend school, work extra hours or improve their station in other ways, this will be assessed as part of property division. Other areas that are considered include: the parties’ age and health; their incomes; their occupation and if they can get or hold a job; future income and assets; if there are children and one party needs to retain a marital home to serve the best interests of the children; and other factors that could be construed as valid.
Property that was held by one spouse before the marriage will remain that spouse’s property. Still, income that accrued from the property after the marriage can be shared. Inheritances to one spouse cannot be shared through property division. Property division will be decided before alimony as the amount needed for support can be impacted by how property is split.
Property division can be complex and knowing the terrain is essential
Whether is it real estate, automobiles, a business, a financial portfolio, collectibles and any other property that was held before the marriage or acquired after, property assignment can be complex and confusing. People have enough to think about with family law if there are children, custody concerns, parenting time issues and the possibility of alimony without getting into a lengthy disagreement over property. Unfortunately, it does happen. To understand the law and to get what a person is entitled to, it is useful to have assistance with a case to analyze the property and seek an acceptable outcome.