When your marriage comes to an end, the time you will receive with your children is likely your primary concern. Rhode Island law requires both parents to have legal visitation with minor children except in limited circumstances. 

Before negotiating a parenting agreement, learn more about how Rhode Island courts handle child custody. 

Types of child custody  

State law recognizes both physical and legal custody. Legal custody describes your and your co-parent’s right to make decisions on the child’s behalf. This includes aspects of your child’s upbringing such as religious instruction, education and travel. Physical custody describes where your child lives most of the time. The court can order either sole or shared physical and legal custody. 

Parenting time regulations 

Rhode Island requires courts to give the parent who does not have physical custody a minimum amount of time with the child. The child must spend at least every other weekend and one night a week with the noncustodial parent unless the court has terminated those parental rights. 

The custody process 

The court encourages parents to agree on a custody schedule without legal intervention. If you are unable to do so, the judge may order you to a mediation session where you and your attorneys can attempt to negotiate an agreement with the help of a professional mediator. 

If this measure is not successful, the court will make a custody ruling based on your child’s interests. Factors in this determination include: 

  • Whether each parent will foster a relationship between the child and the other parent 
  • The stability of each parent’s living environment 
  • The physical, mental and moral health of you and your co-parent 
  • How well the child has adjusted to his or her current home, community and school  
  • The child’s existing connection to other family members, including other siblings 
  • The child’s wishes if he or she is old enough to express a preference 
  • Your and your ex-spouse’s wishes for custody 

If your case proceeds to a court hearing, you and your attorney can present evidence showing that your preferred arrangement serves your child’s health, happiness and well-being.