Rhode Island uses several criteria to determine child custody. Primarily, child custody in is determined based on the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Rhode Island should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.
Best Interests of the Child
A family court in Rhode Island will consider the following factors when determining the best interests of the child:
- The child's wishes
- The parent's wishes
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The stability of the child's home
- Each parent's ability to encourage and foster a relationship between the child and the child's other parent
Visitation and Child Custody in Rhode Island
If a parent is not granted custody of a child, a Rhode Island court will give the parent reasonable visitation unless another parent or another interested party can show that visitation will not serve the child's best interests.
If a child has been physically or sexually abused by his/her parents, visitation will be denied. However, the court in Rhode Island will review the visitation request on an annual basis to determine whether the parent has rehabilitated him/herself, or whether denying visitation is in the best interests of the child. The court may also request a parent to attend counseling sessions as proof of rehabilitation.
Domestic Violence and Child Custody in Rhode Island
A family court in Rhode Island will consider a parent's history of domestic violence when determining child custody. If there is a proven history of domestic violence, child custody and visitation will be arranged to best protect the child and the abused parent from harm.
The court will consider the parent's history of harm, bodily injury, or assault to another person. The court may choose to do the following:
- Send the perpetrator of domestic violence to attend and complete a certified batterer's intervention program
- Send the perpetrator to a substance abuse program, when appropriate
- Request a bond to ensure the return and safety of the child
- Order the address and telephone number of the child to be kept confidential
- Order the secure exchange of the child at a neutral drop-off location or supervised visitation
Mediation and Child Custody in Rhode Island
The courts may order parents to mediation when child custody and visitation issues are in dispute. In Rhode Island, all communications made by or to a mediator, or between parents, is considered confidential and may not be divulged in a court proceeding.
For more information about child custody in Rhode Island, speak with a qualified attorney in Rhode Island or refer to the Rhode Island Domestic Relations statute.