Rhode Island Alimony Laws and Guidelines: All About Spousal Support in “RI”

The alimony law governing spousal support in Rhode Island is different from what is obtainable in other states. Read further to grasp the peculiarity of the RI alimony law.

Also referred to as “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance” in Ocean State, alimony is the series of payments made by one spouse (the payor spouse) to another (the supported or payee spouse) after the divorce.

Before the alimony payments commence, there has to be a written order or agreement which requires the payor to support the payee with a stipulated amount of money.

This agreement eliminates any disputes in the future about why the payment was made or when it’s not made.

All 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.

Type of Alimony Laws Practiced in RI

types of alimony

Types of alimony in Rhode Island

There are 2 types of alimony in Rhode Island, but if you’re having trouble making ends meet while going through the legal process after a divorce, you can request the judge for interim alimony from your spouse.

Your case will be evaluated by the court to see if it is acceptable. If it really is, temporary alimony will be awarded for the period of the divorce and will terminate when the divorce is finalized by the judge.

If you require financial assistance following your divorce, the judge may award you one of the following types of alimony: short-term (or rehabilitative), or permanent.

Rehabilitative Support in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, rehabilitative support is the most typical type of alimony. The court likes to grant short-term alimony for only as long as the recipient requires in order to become self-sufficient.

The goal of rehabilitative assistance is to provide the supported spouse the time they need to find work, return to school, or learn new skills in order to enter the workforce and become financially self-sufficient.

Permanent Support in RI

Permanent support is uncommon, and courts usually reserve it for situations in which the receiving spouse is unable to support themselves due to a disability, poor health, old age, or a long period of unemployment.  (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-16 (2))

Who Pays Alimony in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island alimony law, the spouse that makes most of the money will share that income with the other spouse. The idea behind who pays for alimony is to considerably level up the living standard of the dependent spouse to what it was while the marriage was on.

Regarding the sex that pays, alimony in Ocean State is gender-neutral, meaning either spouse can request support from the other. As long as the alimony can be provided to the requesting spouse, then it will most likely be granted.

So a husband can receive alimony from a wife in Rhode Island if the above conditions are met.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last in RI?

How Long To Pay Alimony

The judge will decide how long the alimony payment should last in Rhode Island

Alimony can last indefinitely in Rhode Island, according to state law. The length of time you can receive or be forced to pay alimony has no fixed regulations or rules. The Rhode Island family court criterion for alimony payment term should, nevertheless, be considered a “reasonable period of time.”

The duration of your alimony award will be determined by your support order, and the judge will decide how long it will continue. If you’re receiving rehabilitative support, for instance, the judge may order that it persist for four years, with you having to justify ongoing necessity alimony if you’ve not become self-supporting by then.

If the court orders permanent support without a time limit, it will be paid perpetually (or until the court modifies or terminates it later.) If the dependent spouse remarries, alimony is automatically terminated. (R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-16 2).)

How to Collect Spousal Support Arrears in Rhode Island

When it comes to collecting spousal support in Rhode Island, you have a few choices if your ex-spouse has failed to make alimony payments as ordered by the court. Debts for spousal support are frequently given priority among debtors under US law.

Factors Affecting Alimony Payment in Rhode Island

The average amount payable as spousal support in Rhode Island after divorce is determined by various factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”

To determine the final amounts for rehabilitative and permanent support in RI, the courts in RI take into consideration the income of the spouses, plus other factors like:

  • earning capacity of each spouse.
  • the ability of the paying spouse to pay, considering assets, the standard of living, earning capacity, as well as earned and unearned income.
  • the extent of contribution the supported spouse gave to the other’s educational pursuit or professional license during the marriage
  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the needs of each spouse
  • the assets and debts of each spouse including separate property
  • each party’s tax consequences
  • the ability of the supported spouse to gain employment without interfering with their children’s care
  • each spouse’s health and age
  • each party’s balance of hardships
  • whether there is a documented history of domestic violence against the children or either party
  • will the dependent spouse be self-supporting within a reasonable period
  • any criminal conviction of an abusive spouse
  • any other factors which the court wishes to consider

This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid in Ocean State. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.

How Alimony is Calculated in RI

How Alimony is Calculated

How Alimony is Calculated in Rhode Island

The amount to be paid as spousal support in Rhode Island is calculated after considering the above-stated factors. Whichever option is adopted it is reflected in the Alimony Calculator

But to be explicit about how to calculate spousal support in RI, you may need to consult your spousal support attorney.

>>> Rhode Island Spousal Support Calculator

Importance of Using a Skilled Rhode Island Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re getting a divorce in Rhode Island and need to negotiate or re-negotiate spousal support, you’ve definitely got a lot of questions and want to seek competent legal guidance. Though state Supreme Courts have supported lifetime spousal support,
your circumstances may or may not fulfill the requirements. RI courts may judge your case differently based on the merits of you and your previous spouse. There are so many variables to consider.

If you want to get spousal support for the rest of your life or if you want to fight against it in Rhode Island, an expert divorce lawyer can help. Depending on the objective and the desire of the adversary attorney to bargain in good faith, you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

For the convenience of our members, we have an up-to-date directory of Rhode Island divorce and spousal support attorneys who can help with a variety of issues. For legal advice and representation on spousal support that is powerful and well-informed.

Click Here to Get our Free Iowa Alimony recommendation.

FAQ About Rhode Island Alimony Laws

Here are Frequently Asked Questions about spousal support laws in RI:

Can a Husband get Alimony in RI?

Yes. In Rhode Island, alimony payment is gender-neutral, meaning the sex that pays or receives is not the main determinant, but other factors as stated above. For details click here.

Who Qualifies for Alimony in Rhode Island?

Just as either spouse can pay or receive, the party that qualifies to receive spousal support is the dependent party while the marriage lasted. This means that in RI, the spouse that had lesser or no income when the marriage was on is also the one qualified to receive alimony. Click here for details

How Long do you have to be Married to get Alimony in RI?

To understand how long alimony lasts in Rhode Island, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.

However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 10-20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.

Is Alimony Tax Deductible in Rhode Island?

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which altered the link between alimony and taxes dramatically in Rhode Island and all over the US, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the payer and are no longer recognized as income for the recipient spouse as of January 1, 2019.

Is Alimony Mandatory in Ocean State?

Alimony is mandatory in Rhode Island as long as one of the spouses earns or owns assets that can be relied upon to support the other spouse after the marriage breaks down.

Can Alimony be increased in Rhode Island?

Alimony amount or duration can be increased or decreased due to changes in the financial circumstances of the parties in different ways, including:

  • an increase or decrease in the income of the alimony recipient
  • if it’s determined that the original alimony awarded is inadequate
  •  loss to the alimony recipient’s financial assets
  • an increase in the justified expenses of the alimony recipient
  • when the financial condition of the receiving spouse fails to improve as originally expected

Can you go to Jail for Not Paying Spousal Support in RI?

Technically, you will not be jailed for not paying alimony in Rhode Island. While there are varying consequences for not paying alimony, you can still end up in jail as a result. Here is how.

If it’s a Rhode Island court-ordered spousal support that you refuse to pay, it means you are in violation of a court order meaning you can be prosecuted for being in contempt of court if contempt proceedings are brought up against you. This could attract a jail term in RI}.

How to Modify Spousal Support in RI?

How to Avoid spousal support

How to Avoid spousal support in Rhode Island

When necessary, Rhode Island law allows for a spousal support modification. When it comes to alimony, courts in RI usually try to do their best to create judgments that are fair and effective in the long run. Nevertheless, conditions change over time, and these changes may compel a revision or modification of the initial order.

When filing for a spousal support modification in Rhode Island, keep in mind that the courts will only entertain the motion if there has been a significant and long-term change in circumstances. A brief problem is unlikely to be significant enough to warrant a revision in the initial alimony ruling. Likewise, dissatisfaction with the support order is not a valid reason for a revision in RI.

The following are some of the most common reasons for requesting an alimony modification in Rhode Island:

  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Relocation
  • Changes in income or employment
  • Birth of a new child
  • Health changes, including disability
  • A new dependent

How to Avoid or End Spousal Support in Rhode Island?

In Ocean State, the spouse paying the alimony can successfully avoid or stop the alimony payment if he/she is able to prove any or all of the following points:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse proves that he has no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse however, he/she will continue paying the child support for children if any
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

Alimony Laws in all 50 States

A Alabama  |  AlaskaArizonaArkansas
C CaliforniaColoradoConnecticut
D-H DelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaii
I IdahoIllinoisIndianaIowa
K-L KansasKentuckyLouisiana
M MaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontana
NebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth Dakota
P-S  PennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth Dakota
T-U  TennesseeTexasUtah
V-W  VermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.