Rhode Island is an Equitable Distribution state (sometimes called “Equitable Division”). This does not mean the court splits all the assets in half. Rather, the court considers a set of factors to determine what is fair in assigning property to each spouse. The court will only “equitably divide” those assets that are considered marital property. Marital property is the property accumulated during the marriage.
Anything accumulated before the marriage is generally considered non-marital property and will not be “equitably divided.” Also, inheritances and gifts (acquired at any time) are usually considered non-marital property as well. However, it is important to note that non-marital property can sometimes become marital property if there is income from, or the value of the non-marital property is increased, during the marriage.
Rhode Island considers the following factors when assigning marital property to each spouse:
- The length of the marriage;
- The conduct of the parties during the marriage;
- The contribution of each of the parties to the marital estate;
- The contribution and services of either party as a homemaker;
- The health and age of the parties;
- The amount and sources of income of each the parties;
- The occupation and employability of each of the parties;
- The opportunity of each party for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
- The contribution by one party to the education, training, licensure, business, or increased earning power of the other;
- The need of the custodial parent to occupy or own the marital residence or use household effects taking into account the best interests of the children;
- Any other factor that the court finds to be just and proper.
- See 15-5-16.1 for full text of the law.