In Rhode Island, marital property is subject to equitable division under statute § 15-5-16.1. The assignment of property in cases of divorce is divided and managed fairly between the two spouses depending on various factors. This does not mean that property is split 50/50; rather, it is split in a just and proper way. Martial property can include houses, vehicles, furniture, computers, bank accounts, and other assets. A family law attorney can help determine what you’re entitled to receive as part of a divorce settlement as well as give you advice on the best ways to manage marital property before you get married.
How Martial Property Is Divided in Rhode Island
Rhode Island uses equitable distribution when dividing martial property as part of a divorce settlement. In Rhode Island, marriage is considered an economic partnership, and any property acquired during the marriage is subject to division under the law. Anything acquired or shared during a marriage is considered marital property.
When determining what each spouse is entitled to in the divorce settlement, the following factors may be considered:
- Length of the marriage
- Conduct of each spouse during the marriage
- Economic contribution of each spouse
- Any economic misconduct or misuse by either spouse
- Health and age of the spouses
- Whether both or one spouse will be responsible for supporting minor children
- Amount of income earned for each spouse as well as their earning potential
- Value of marital property
- Contribution of one spouse to the other’s education or training
Once these factors are taken into consideration, a judgement can be determined, and property will be divided between the two spouses in a fair and reasonable manner.
When a couple plans to get married, they are usually not thinking about divorce or what could happen to the assets or property they owned before the marriage. All assets or property bought prior to the date of marriage is considered premarital property. Property acquired by one spouse before the marriage and not intended to be marital property is not subject to equal division under Rhode Island law.
One way to protect your property before getting married is by entering into a prenuptial agreement. This type of agreement is legally binding and specifies what property is not to be divided in a case of divorce and what belongs solely to the spouse who purchased it before marriage. An attorney can help create a prenuptial agreement that clearly states what specific property or assets you wish to keep separate during the marriage. Having a prenuptial agreement in place prior to the marriage also ensures that you will be able to keep your property in case of a divorce.
Tips on Managing Marital Property
In addition to a prenuptial agreement, there are other things you can do to manage and protect your property. You can keep your property separate from your spouse throughout your marriage if you have concerns about it being subject to division in case of a divorce.
Some tips to consider when managing marital property are:
- Keep records such as receipts, deeds, titles, etc. to establish property ownership.
- Keep any assets that you do not want considered marital property separate from your spouse, and do not use a joint account to purchase items you want to keep separate.
- If you have a personal injury settlement, keep the proceeds separate from your spouse, so it is not part of marital property or a joint asset.
- Keep separate bank accounts if you do not want the funds commingled and considered marital property.
- Do not use non-marital funds to purchase marital property that may be split in the divorce.
- Consider how you handle a business owned before marriage. A business you owned before marriage may be considered a marital asset if it has increased in value due to your spouse’s contribution to the business and may be divided as part of the divorce.
Do You Need To Speak To A Rhode Island Divorce Attorney?
If you are considering a divorce you need to speak with an experienced Rhode Island divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help divorce clients in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.