Rhode Island Prenup Info & Divorce Statutes
Rhode Island Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement (referred to generally as a “prenup”) is a drafted document between two engaged parties who plan to get married. The planned document outlines what will happen to property that is acquired prior to marriage, while married, and in the event of divorce or separation. Prenups also detail what will happen between a couple’s debt, assets, liabilities, and responsibilities while married and in the event of divorce or separation. A prenuptial agreement in Rhode Island is also referred to as a “Premarital Agreement,” and is governed by Rhode Island’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.
A prenuptial agreement, aka a premarital agreement, is a contract that is entered into prior to and in anticipation of a marriage. Under the Rhode Island Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a prenup can cover a range of issues, including but not limited to:
- How the ownership of property should be considered;
- The disposition of property upon separation or divorce;
- The modification or waiver of spousal support (also commonly known as alimony);
- Ownership of life insurance benefits; and
- The choice of governing law.
- The factors listed in the Rhode Island Uniform Premarital Agreement Act are not exhaustive- this means that a prenuptial agreement can include terms covering any matter that is not against public policy or against the law.
Financial disclosure of the property or financial obligations of each party is an essential element to a valid prenuptial agreement in Rhode Island, per the RI Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. Per the act, each party must disclose all of their “property or financial obligations” as part of the prenuptial agreement. This is also referred to as “financial disclosure.” Without financial disclosure, courts are unlikely to enforce the terms of a prenup.
What to include in a valid Rhode Island Prenup?
For a RI prenup to be considered valid in the state of Rhode Island, it must be drafted under specific requirements that include:
- A written contract -yes, it must be in writing!
- The terms included must be lawful
- Signatures from both parties (HelloPrenup recommends that you initial each page!)
- Entered into voluntarily (without being under duress, intimidation, deceit, etc.)
- Notarized – although this is not an explicit requirement, best practice is to have your signatures notarized.
- There must be disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
What to exclude from your Rhode Island prenup
Your prenup could be a risk if you include any of the following provisions:
- You may not include decisions relating to child custody or child support in your prenup
- You may not include an incentive to commit illegal acts
- No unfair, unjust, or deceptive terms!
A Rhode Island prenuptial agreement may not be enforced if the party can prove that the agreement was not voluntarily executed, a party was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party, among other points included here.
Statutes & terms to understand for a valid Rhode Island Prenup
*Psst! We created a “prenup encyclopedia” that breaks down the general prenup terminology (so your brain doesn’t have to). Read through the terms prior to getting into the statutes 👇
Unofficial term for property “acquired during the marriage”
Marital assets are any property or income that is acquired during the marriage by either party. These assets will be subject to equitable distribution based on a number of factors (see link below). Though the assets may have be acquired and shared “equally” it is still up to Rhode Island courts to decide how the equity will be distributed based on what is considered to be fair.
“property held in the name of one party”
Rhode Island courts are hesitant to assign property or an interest in property held in the name of one of the spouses, if that property was held by the spouse prior to the marriage. However, the court may assign the income derived from said property during the marriage, and may also assign the appreciation in value of that property as marital property. Long story short? If you don’t want any of your separate property, appreciation of that property, or earnings from that property to be considered part of the marital estate subject to division, get a prenup!
Official term: Alimony
How does Rhode Island view alimony? Rhode Island “alimony” is defined as payments for the support of either the husband or the wife, and is designed to provide support for that spouse for a reasonable length of time in order to enable the recipient of the alimony to become financially independent and self-sufficient. Rhode Island courts can award alimony for an indefinite period of time when they deem that it is appropriate based upon a variety of factors, including the length of marriage, employability of the parties, etc. The factors for indefinite alimony in Rhode Island can be viewed here. .
General Provisions: Assignment of Property
Rhode Island follows an equitable distribution theory of property division, but like all states, has it’s own individual laws. Rhode Island calls this process “Assignment of Property.” That means that the assets and debts that you and your spouse acquired will be split in an equitable manner (if you haven’t already determined this split in a prenuptial agreement!) The courts in Rhode Island consider many different factors when deciding how to divide marital property in an equitable manner, including the length of the marriage, contributions to the marriage, the ages of the spouses, the employability of the parties, the health of the parties, among others. Read up on Rhode Island’s equitable distribution theory here:
Rhode Island “No Fault” Divorce
Rhode Island is a “no-fault” divorce state – which means that couples married within this state do not need to provide any sort of evidence that a divorce is needed (from either party for any reason). Irrespective of the fault of either party, a divorce can be granted by way of “irreconcilable differences” which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
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