Divorce and Custody Issues


Divorce is a stressful and unique experience for most individuals. Whether there are children involved or not, an experienced attorney can help guide you through that process. The Law Office of Edward R. McCormick III has over 25 years of experience in all aspects of Family Law. Divorce Law provides for the distribution of assets and debts of the marriage. If children are involved, child support, custody and visitation are provided for. Child support is somewhat inflexible; but, visitation and custody are not bound by hard and fast rules. This allows for an experienced attorney to devise a schedule and arrangement that best fits your unique situation. Remember that your particular work and family life are unique to you and should be considered in your visitation and custodial order.

Although most have heard that assets are divided evenly, the contribution, maintenance and accumulation of those assets can be considered in the distribution in a divorce proceeding. The proper research and gathering of related documents may allow your attorney to be successful in gaining a greater share of those assets. The division of assets may also include real estate and retirement assets. That division does not always require a liquidation or cash payment. Creative ways maybe used to avoid this and result in a less costly distribution.


Parties that have children born out of wedlock have the same custodial rights as if married. The difference is that for those not married it is important for individuals to file a petition in family court to establish the custodial and visitation rights of the parties. Even in cases where the parties are amicable, situations and circumstances of the parties may change. Further, if individuals have established a custodial order, that order can be modified based on changes. The modification of an order is much easier to accomplish than establishing an order.


How do you establish the paternity in cases of children born of out wedlock? If contested, until paternity is determined a father will be without custodial and visitation rights. Paternity may take months to determine due to delays with Court and DNA testing. During this time a father that had visitation may be without it until those tests are completed. It is important for fathers to establish their paternity and rights to avoid losing precious time with their child or children.

Common Law Marriage

Rhode Island does recognize common law marriage. A common misconception is that it requires a certain number of years to establish. The party attempting to show a common law marriage must establish facts that show the parties held themselves out in public as husband and wife. No particular number of years are necessary, but a longer time may increase the chances a court will agree. Furthermore, to do so the party trying to establish a common law marriage must convince a court by a higher standard of clear and convincing evidence.

A person's wish to establish a common law marriage is not limited to a divorce proceeding. It may occur on the death of a person to determine the surviving spouse. It can also occur when a party seeks to be the surviving spouse for the purpose of life insurance or a retirement pension. In these situations parties should consult with an attorney quickly before those assets are distributed.


Alimony is the right of one party to seek monetary support from the other in a divorce proceeding. The distribution and calculation is determined by law pursuant to RIGL 15-5-16. Alimony is not ordered for life and in most cases not more than a few years if at all. The Court considers many factors of the parties such as age, education , income earning ability and assets awarded. Your attorney can present those facts in the best light of that party.

Child Support

Support is determined by state law RIGL 15-5-16.2 and by Administrative Orders established by the Court. Child support is calculated by a formula but some additions to support are made to account for day care and medical coverage costs. Child support can me modified periodically which requires parties to pay close attention to any increase or loss of income. It is important to note that any modification of support that the parties make on their own is not binding on the Court.