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Rhode Island Divorce Attorney

Aggressive Divorce Representation That You Deserve

Divorce is a difficult experience for most people. The end of a marriage not only has an emotional impact but a financial and practical impact as well. Important decisions need to be made regarding child custody, child visitation, alimony, and the distribution of marital assets. You can potentially make this experience easier for yourself and your loved ones by contacting a divorce lawyer in Rhode Island who can provide you with emotional and legal support throughout the process.

The Law Office of Patricia A. Sullivan has been providing quality divorce and family law services for over three decades. In that time, my firm has helped countless individuals achieve swift and amicable resolutions to their divorce proceedings. If you are considering divorce, contact me for a free initial consultation. I will thoroughly examine your case and provide you with information regarding your legal rights, the court process, and the fees involved with divorce. When you decide to proceed, my firm will assist you in the following divorce-related areas:


Under our state's laws, courts award alimony as a specific amount, for a specific period of time. In most cases, it is only given to the receiving spouse if it is needed for rehabilitative purposes. It is not intended to give the receiving spouse equal income to the supporting spouse, but rather to give the receiving spouse enough time to become self-sufficient and self-supporting.

Asset Division

Our state is what is known as an "equitable distribution" state. That means that property is divided fairly amongst two individuals who are getting a divorce. The property subject to distribution is any asset that is acquired during the marriage and has appreciated in value (or has the potential to). This includes residences, vehicles, furniture, stocks, pensions, and debt.

Child Custody

Rhode Island courts assume that the parents of a child have both had an impact, and input, into the raising of the child. In many cases, courts will decide on child custody arrangements that allow both parents to contribute to the child's upbringing, either through physical or legal custody. The court's decision will always be based on the "best interests of the child."

Child Support

There are certain guidelines that our state follows when awarding child support to a custodial parent. These guidelines address factors such as each parent's income and the specific needs of the child. The parent providing child support is expected to do so until the child turns 18 and graduates high school.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce occurs when both parties are unable to come to an agreement regarding one or more divorce issues. In contested divorce cases, it usually becomes necessary for a court to intervene, and make decisions on behalf of the two parties regarding issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and property division.

Equitable Distribution

Family courts in our state consider a number of factors when working towards an equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. These factors include the length of the marriage, the age of both parties, the income of both parties, the conduct of both parties over the course of the marriage, and whether or not either party engaged in a wasteful dissipation of assets in anticipation of divorce.

Fathers' Rights

In the past, fathers' rights were often disregarded in divorce cases involving child custody or visitation matters. The law often sided with mothers, viewing them as the primary caretakers of their children. Times have changed now, and fathers have a much stronger chance of obtaining custody and visitation arrangements that allow them to be an active part of their children's lives.

Legal Separation

If a couple is having relationship troubles but does not want to divorce, they can obtain a legal separation instead. Like a divorce, a legal separation addresses child custody, child support, alimony, and visitation, but all assets and debts acquired by the couple are still considered "marital."

Military Divorce

Military divorce proceedings are governed by both state and federal law. These divorces are frequently more complicated than civilian divorces, as they may involve issues that include flexible child custody or visitation agreements, deployed spouses, distribution of military pensions or benefits, and the 20/20/20 rule.

Modifications of Custody and Support

People who have divorced sometimes experience a change in circumstances that call for modifications to their divorce agreements. A number of terms in a divorce decree may be modified by a court, including those addressing child custody and child support. Typically, the person requesting the modification must be able to prove a substantial change in circumstances that renders the existing terms unfair or no longer viable.

Mothers' Rights

Traditionally, mothers have enjoyed more comprehensive rights in regards to child custody and child support than fathers have. In recent years, however, this balance has shifted, and fathers now enjoy equal rights in many circumstances. If you are a mother who is seeking custody of your child, or adequate child support, you will have a much stronger chance of protecting your rights if you retain the help of a Rhode Island divorce lawyer.

Postnuptial Agreements & Prenuptial Agreements

A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement, except that it is drafted and put into effect after a couple has already married. The agreement defines the rights of both individuals, including those related to the handling of debt, property division, and potential future spousal support obligations.

A prenuptial agreement can be very beneficial to two people who have not yet legally wed. Through a prenup, the two parties can define how property is divided in the event of divorce and establish provisions for spousal support. A prenup can also protect the inheritance of children belonging to the spouses from earlier marriages or relationships.


After a divorce, a custodial parent may decide to relocate a substantial distance away from the other parent. Relocation may prove beneficial to the custodial parent and the child, especially in cases where the new place of residence provides an increased standard of living. However, relocation can also weaken the relationship that the other parent enjoys with the child.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce, there is agreement between both parties in regards to divorce terms such child custody and asset division. Generally, uncontested divorces are less time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining than contested divorces, as there is no need lengthy negotiation between the parties, or costly litigation in family court.


In a divorce in which children are involved, a family court judge will usually approve, or decide on, a child custody arrangement and visitation schedule that is beneficial to the child and the child's parents. The schedule generally includes when and where the noncustodial parent can visit with the child and for how long. Visitation time for vacations and holidays may also be addressed.

The Advantages of Working With My Firm

Divorce cases have the potential to become contested very quickly. One small disagreement between the two parties can result in expensive and lengthy litigation in court. My firm is dedicated to finding amicable solutions for those navigating the divorce process. In representing you in your divorce proceedings, I will work diligently towards helping you find solutions that will increase the likelihood of a positive outcome to your case.

Contact a Rhode Island divorce attorney for comprehensive assistance in all aspects of your divorce case. You can also view our FAQ page for more information.