How is Child Custody Determined in Rhode Island?

by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg

Generally, custody decisions are quite complicated and take months of negotiation and Court appearances to resolve. Unfortunately that means they can often be expensive as well. However, through good preparation and quality lawyering, you should be able to achieve your desired result.

While the process is complicated, and the Court will consider many things, Rhode Island law requires the Judge to consider several very specific factors prior to awarding one party custody.

The numerous aspects that they look at include:

  • Whether both parties are “fit and proper” to be parents
  • Both parents’ wishes regarding the custodial arrangement
  • The home and school adjustments the kids will have to make
  • The children’s relationship with each parent, their extended family and friends
  • The reasonable preference of the child given their age, intelligence and maturity
  • The mental and physical health of the parties
  • The willingness of each parent to foster and promote the relationship between the child and their other parent
  • The stability of the current home environment of the child

A judge will consider all of the above and will weight each factor differently depending upon the specific circumstances of the case. The basic idea is that you want the weight of all the favorable evidence on your behalf to tilt the “scales of justice” in your favor. Remember every case has strengths and weaknesses, and the job of your attorney is to create the impression that it is undeniably in the child’s best interest that you be awarded custody.