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Co-Parenting in Rhode Island: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Custody and Visitation Laws

When determining custody of children in Rhode Island, the court considers a number of factors, such as financial stability, the child’s relationship with each parent, and the overall wellbeing of the child. Under Rhode Island law, RI Gen. Laws §§ 15-5-24, courts will award custody by considering which parent can create the most desirable environment for the child and maintain communication with the other parent.


In addition, court awards are based upon the Rhode Island version of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which allows the court to have power over any custody case involving children who are residents of the state, regardless of the parent’s current residence. This provides parents who move to a new state with the chance to retain custody or visitation rights.


In cases involving joint or shared custody, Rhode Island courts will outline a parenting plan that both parties must adhere to for the benefit of the children. The general guidelines of the plan are established in RI Gen. Laws § 15-5-24.2, which establishes that the plan must include:

  • Decisions related to the child's education, religion, medical care, or other important matters
  • Starting times, ending times, holiday and vacation schedules for visitation
  • Locations to transfer the child while exchanging visitation time
  • Any other details that are important to the family's circumstances


Child Support Guidelines

Child support payments are established in Rhode Island by statute, RI Gen. Laws §§ 15-5-16.1, as the moral obligation of both parents to financially support their children throughout the divorce process. Generally speaking, the parent with primary custody will receive payments from the other parent.


When it comes to determining the payment amount, the court considers a number of factors, such as the ratio of incomes of each parent, expenses from the children’s activities, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, the wellbeing of the child, and the amount of childcare expenses. Ultimately, these figures are input into the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines Calculator, which produces a payment amount.


The state requires that the non-custodial parent pay the custodial parent for child support until the child turns 18 or if the child is a full-time student living at home, child support can be extended until the child reaches the age of 19.5.


Co-Parenting Expenses

Unlike child support payments, the state of Rhode Island does not have guidelines outlining the responsibility of each parent when it comes to co-parenting expenses in a parental agreement. As such, the extent of shared costs are typically determined through negotiation and ultimately, agreed upon by both parties.


In some cases, one parent will be responsible for providing health insurance for the child or both parties may split the cost of extracurricular activities, such as organized sports or tutoring. Additionally, if the cost of non-coverage health care exceeds a reasonable amount, the non-custodial parent may be legally obligated to pay the additional amount.


Parental Rights

According to RI Gen. Laws § 15-5-24.3, both parents are granted the right to receive information about the child’s life and wellbeing, participate in educational and medical decisions, or file motions to modify the current custody arrangements.


It’s important to note that both parties are subject to Rhode Island’s parental alienation law, RI Gen. Laws § 15-5-24.7, which states that communication between both parents should remain positive and cooperative. Additionally, parents are expected to refrain from discussing any detrimental topics regarding the other parent. If any parent violates this law, they may be required to attend mediation sessions, pay a fine, or face a temporary suspension of visitation rights.


Using Mediation to Resolve Conflicts

As with any parental disputes, Rhode Island encourages both parties to seek mediation services to reach a mutual agreement before pursuing a court action. Managing minor issues, such as disagreements on discipline or visitation issues, can be handled through mediation and using a third-party attorney for input.


Under RI Gen. Laws § 8-10-7, each party is expected to pay their own attorney fees unless the court decides to award legal fees to the other party. In doing so, attorneys involved in the process are asked to report the division of the potential settlement.


Ultimately, the goal of Rhode Island courts is to maintain a respectful, cooperative relationship between both parents while ensuring that the child’s interests are kept as a priority. With comprehensive knowledge on the laws of custody, child support, expenses, and parental rights, Rhode Island co-parents can make informed decisions for the best interest of the child. They can create a positive co-parenting experience for themselves.


Fact Check and Sources

In writing this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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