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" Placement " is sometimes confused with custody by laypeople due to its common everyday usage. However, both words are terms of art in Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law. Placement is the legal right of a parent to have primary physical possession of one or more minor children for a particular time.
Unless the Department of Children, Youth and Families is involved, there are typically only two placement scenarios. Placement is either solely with one parent or placement is shared between both parents. Joint physical placement of minor children is typically only awarded by the court if the family court judge reasonably believes that such an arrangement is workable and is in the best interests of the minor child(ren).
Placement of the minor children is often by agreement of the parties and approved by the court absent extenuating circumstances where the court may find the arrangement is not in the best interests of the children.
Changes in placement can be made if one of the parties files a Motion for Change of Placement or may be made by the court (sua sponte - at the court's own discretion) if the Rhode Island family court judge believes that the best interests of the minor child(ren) would be served by such a change.
Rhode Island law and Rhode Island Divorce/Family Court judges view the well-being of the minor child(ren) as a paramount concern in domestic relations situations and judges will often take protective measures or issue Orders to protect with the well-being of the minor child(ren). A change in placement of one or more children that is agreed upon by the parents themselves is often granted by the court usually because the situation is, in fact, one that will work for the children and will serve the child(ren)'s best interests.
However, the request may be (and often is) scrutinized by the court if there is no reason for the change or if the reason does not demonstrate to the court that the change of placement is in the best interests of the child(ren).
Changes of placement that are opposed by one spouse may occur when the spouse that has placement of the child(ren) exhibits behavior that is dangerous or otherwise detrimental to the child(ren).
Rhode Island family court judges have also ordered a change of placement where the placement parent is resorting to criminal behavior or consorting with those who are engaged in such behavior. Other reasons for ordering a change of placement include alcoholism, drug use, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental cruelty, a parent's inability or unwillingness to provide for the fundamental needs of the child(ren) or a parent's attempt to remove the children from the state without permission of the court.
It is important to know what you need to do to protect your child and to take the necessary steps not simply at this moment but for the future as well.
It is additionally important to know who is entitled to the tax deductions for the minor children, whether this can be modified by agreement of the parties, and what is required by the Internal Revenue Service and Rhode Island Division of Taxation in order to be able to lawfully take deductions for the minor child whether you are the placement or non-placement parent.
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Notice: This website is provided as a courtesy to provide you with a greater appreciation of the complexity of Rhode Island divorce and family law issues. This website is not legal advice. Legal advice regarding Rhode Island Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support and Family Law issues under the laws of the State of Rhode Island should be provided only by a licensed Rhode Island Divorce Attorney or Family Law Lawyer who knows all the facts and circumstances of your case and can advise you after a comprehensive and detailed advice session regarding your case. (*Disclaimer: Rhode Island licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law. Rhode Island does not have a procedure for certification or specialization in any particular area of law.)
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