Rhode Island Custody and Visitation Schedules

How do I make my Rhode Island custody and visitation schedule?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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How can I use the laws of Rhode Island to help me make my schedule?

The General Laws, along with Rhode Island case law, can be valuable tools when you use them to enhance your parenting plan and child visitation schedule. When you use the law as a guide, you will save time because you will be able to create a schedule the court will accept.

The laws pertaining to child custody and visitation in the State of Rhode Island can be found in the State of Rhode Island General Laws, Title 15, Domestic Relations.

These laws should be reviewed prior to creating a child visitation schedule, to ensure you are compliant with the law and have an understanding of the requirements of the court.

While Rhode Island does not have specific laws regarding the structure and contents of a child visitation schedule, the law does define the different types of custody and some of the terms used in court documents and the courtroom.

What are the various types of custody in the State of Rhode Island?

Understanding the various types of custody in Rhode Island will help you create a child visitation schedule that will serve the needs of your child. There are two kinds of custody, (sole and joint), and two types of custody, (legal and physical).

  • Legal custody pertains to the parental decision-making authority and the responsibility of raising the child.
  • Physical custody means the actual physical care and/or possession of the child.
  • Joint custody means that the parents share the custody of their child. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean that the parents should have to divide their time with the child equally but it does indicate that the child should have more frequent contact with both parents.
  • Sole custody means that only one parent is responsible for the custody, whether legal, physical, or both.

In Rhode Island, what does the court use to determine custody of a child?

The State of Rhode Island considers the best interest and well-being of the child to be the most important factor when ruling on child custody cases.

The court will consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • Whether or not each parent is capable of providing the child a safe, loving, nurturing environment
  • Whether or not each parent is able to meet the basic needs of the child by providing sufficient shelter, food, clothing, and medical care
  • Whether or not domestic violence, abuse, neglect or other circumstances may create a harmful or dangerous environment for the child

As long as both parents are able to properly care for the child, the State prefers that the child have frequent, ongoing contact with both parents. The best interest of the child should be considered at all times when developing a child visitation schedule.

What should my Rhode Island custody and visitation schedule contain?

A child visitation schedule in the State of Rhode Island should specify the days and times your child will spend with each parent and should contain the following components:

  • A residential schedule
  • A holiday schedule
  • A vacation schedule
  • Provisions for reasonable telephone and electronic contact with each parent

A residential schedule is the foundation of the child visitation schedule, and should provide the child with stability, structure and regularly scheduled time with both parents.

A holiday schedule supersedes the residential schedule and should be included to allow the child equitable time with his or her parents for holidays and special occasions. Many parents opt to rotate holidays, alternating them during even and odd years, but you may address each holiday individually and make arrangements for them in advance, as you would like.

A vacation schedule, or provisions for vacation time, should also be included so that the child may have extended time with each parent for vacations and school breaks.

It is often difficult to predict exactly when a parent is going to be able to take personal vacation times. You may include verbiage that indicates how much advanced notice a parent should give the other in order to spend vacation time with the child.

What are some examples of Rhode Island custody schedules?

Some common custody schedules include:

  • The child living with one parent during the week and visiting the other parent on weekends
  • The child living with one parent during the week and having mid-week and weekend visitation with the other parent
  • The child alternating residences every three or four days
  • The child alternating residences every week
  • The child living with one parent during the week and having overnight and mid-week visits along with visits on alternating weekends

Of course, any of these schedule ideas can be modified to fit your situation.

As you consider when to schedule visitation, you should think about if the schedule will help your child excel in school, if it works with the parents' employment schedules, if it allows your child to continue with extracurricular activities, if it allows your child to see friends and relatives, etc.

Considering all aspects of your child's life and thinking about a schedule that both parents can support will help you create the most effective schedule for your circumstances. If you do this, the court of Rhode Island will be able to accept a good schedule as the custody order.

What if I am unable to agree with my ex on the custody schedule?

Most courts in Rhode Island have a set (or standard) visitation schedule that they will assign to families when they are unable to agree on a child visitation schedule on their own.

While there may be "standard" visitation schedules, there is no such thing as a "standard" child. Each child is unique and the needs of each child vary, so it makes sense that you should attempt to create a visitation schedule that encompasses the individual needs of your child.

As your child's needs may be much different than that of a "standard" child, it is always better to make every effort to create a visitation schedule tailored to your child, rather than to have one created and mandated by the court.

Mediation is available to assist parents that are unable to agree and need help negotiating a schedule.

It is only on request, or when all options and attempts at agreeing have been exhausted, that a court will create the child visitation schedule.

The top thirteen cities in Rhode Island (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Providence, Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket, East Providence, Woonsocket, North Providence, West Warwick, Newport, Bristol, Central Falls, Westerly, Barrington.

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