Child Custody in Rhode Island



When parents get divorced or don't get married to begin with, they need to work out a plan for the child's living arrangements. When Rhode Island family courts determine child custody arrangements, they give special emphasis on the child's own best interests.

In addition to the child's best interests, courts will examine the following factors when deciding custody arrangements:

  • Wishes of both parents
  • Desires of the child
  • Mental and physical health of everyone involved
  • Child's relationship with parents and other family members
  • Stability of home life
  • Both parents' “moral fitness”
  • Both parents' ability to cooperate with one another


There are two main types of custody: physical and legal. The term “physical custody” refers to where the child resides and “legal custody” refers to the parents' abilities to make important life decisions—academic, medical, etc.—on behalf of the child.

Three main types of physical custody include:

  • One-parent physical placement – When one parent has physical custody of the child, while the other parent has reasonable visitation rights. The parent with physical placement has the right to receive child support from the parent who has visitation rights.
  • Shared physical placement – When the child splits time residing with both parents. However, this type of physical custody is relatively rare in Rhode Island.
  • Split physical placement – In circumstances where two children or more are involved, one child lives with the father and one child lives with the mother.

The following are two main types of legal custody in Rhode Island:

  • Sole legal custody – When one parent makes all of the important decisions concerning a child's health, education, welfare, and upbringing. He or she has complete access to educational, medical, and other records.
  • Joint legal custody – When both parents are involved in major decisions concerning a child's health, education, welfare, and upbringing. They will have equal rights in making important decisions regarding their child.


At Inman & Tourgee, we understand that these legal issues are often complicated and emotional. We possess an extensive knowledge of the Rhode Island legal system to help you navigate through the complexities of your case. From start to finish, we are committed to achieving your outcome.

Contact us and discuss your legal options now.


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