In Rhode Island, shared custody awarded in the vast majority of cases. Custody is referred to as decision-making power. Decision-making power is having the right to make major decisions for your children, regarding health, education and welfare. The only time you won’t see both parties having shared custody is if one parent is unable to make good decisions regarding a child’s health, education, or welfare over time. Custody is then taken away.
There is a trend toward shared placement, which would mean that a child is truly spending half the time with each parent. Sometimes, Mom has placement or Dad has placement. That can change only through a mutual agreement of the parties or through a court order. When those things need to change or a party is desirous of having a change, they would have to go back to court to request that change. The court would do an analysis regarding the best interests of the child prior to making a decision. They’re restricted from making any changes unless they mutually agree on a change or unless a court order is issued.
What Are Valid Reasons In Rhode Island To Relocate With A Child?
We often will be facing relocation if, for example, a spouse who has the placement of a child has developed another relationship, which requires them to move out of state to marry. We also see job opportunities as a reason for parents requesting relocating. Sometimes, it’s the standard of living or a spouse having a big community of support in another state.
How Much Advance Notice Must Be Given By A Parent Who Intends To Relocate With A Child?
Relocation cases do not happen quickly in the state of Rhode Island. We would tell our clients to give themselves about one year for the court to make those decisions because what’s involved usually requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem, which is a third attorney who enters on behalf of the children, to conduct a thorough investigation. These investigations can take some time because it is important to interview both parents, the children, teachers, therapists and grandparents, and write up a report to provide recommendations to the court.
Often, the guardian ad litem will try to mediate an agreement between the parties, so that they don’t have a contested trial. If one of the parties sees that it really looks like it would be to the benefit of the children to move out of state, then that agreement will be negotiated.
How Is Jurisdiction Defined If The Parents Reside In Separate States?
In the agreements that are reached, more often than not, the parties may agree that so long as the nonrelocating parent remains in the state of Rhode Island, Rhode Island will retain jurisdiction. The nonrelocating parent is not put at a disadvantage, as they did not choose to relocate. If both parents leave the state of Rhode Island and the child has been living in another state for six months or more, then that state would take jurisdiction over custody and placement issues.
Our senior attorney, Veronica Assalone, is proficient in Spanish, French, German, Italian and American Sign Language. Our office assistant speaks Spanish.
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