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Rhode Island Child Custody Laws

When parents get divorced or don't get married in the first place, they must work out a plan for the children's living arrangements. State child custody laws govern how this is decided, with special attention placed on the child's own best interests. The term "physical custody" refers to where the child lives (which may be split between both parents), while "legal custody" refers to the parent's ability to make important life decisions on behalf of their child.

All states, except Massachusetts, adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). This article provides a brief overview of child custody laws in the state of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Child Custody Laws: At a Glance

You can find additional details about Rhode Island child custody laws in the chart below. See FindLaw's extensive Child Custody section for more articles and resources.

Code Section

§ 15-5-16 et seq. of the Rhode Island General Laws

Year Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?


Factors Considered by the Court When Making Custody Determination

  • The wishes of the child's parent or parents regarding the child's custody
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child's parent or parents, the child's siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interest
  • The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
  • The stability of the child's home environment
  • The moral fitness of the child's parents
  • The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, § 15-5-24.1

Child's Own Wishes Considered?

Yes, subject to the court's determination of the child's maturity level

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Rhode Island Child Custody Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Help with Child Custody

If you and your child's other parent are separating, you might not agree on who gets custody of the child or what the custody arrangement should look like. There are many other factors to consider in these determinations, but the court's primary concern will be the child's own best interests. One of the best ways to get a handle on the process is to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney.

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  • Custody & child visitation cases are emotional, and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
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  • Lawyers can seek to secure visitation rights

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