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Rhode Island Supreme Court Upholds 60/40 Division of Property and Denies Alimony


In a recent Rhode Island Supreme Court decision in Cronan v. Cronan (January 24, 2024), the Court upheld the Family Court’s decision to split the marital assets 60/40 in favor of the husband. The Court also denied the wife’s request for alimony. The ruling serves to underscore that property division in divorce is not always 50/50 but is rather based on the Court’s careful consideration of all the Rhode Island statutory factors governing the distribution of property.

In Cronan, the Court noted that the Family Court engaged in a comprehensive discussion of the twelve factors set forth in Rhode Island’s equitable distribution statute. The Family Court, for instance, considered the conduct of the parties during the marriage, and correctly found that “both parties share responsibility for the breakdown of their marriage by their conduct and their spoken words to each other.” However, in terms of which party was responsible for the accumulation of the parties’ marital assets, the Family Court noted that this consideration tipped in favor of the husband. According to the Family Court, it was the husband who “was the sole source of income throughout the marriage” and that the parties’ assets were acquired “solely from money earned by [the husband].” At the same time, the Family Court found that the wife “was laid off in or around the first year of the parties’ marriage and has not earned any money since that time.” The Rhode Island Supreme Court endorsed this analysis and therefore found that the Family Court correctly weighed and considered the statutory factors in awarding the husband 60% of the parties’ assets.

Finally, the Rhode Island Supreme Court also found that no error was committed by the Family Court’s decision to deny the wife alimony. In considering the wife’s request, the Family Court ruled that, based on the 40% of marital assets awarded to her, “even if [the wife] decides not to seek employment, she will have sufficient assets to support herself at the same standard of living she enjoyed during the marriage.” This finding was based on the opinion of an expert witness presented by the husband, who testified that the wife’s share of assets would enable her to meet her expenses through age 90. According to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, “[w]e discern no error in [the Court’s] analysis, nor in [the Court’s] decision to deny . . . alimony.”

The division of property and the potential absence of alimony can shape the economic future of divorcing parties for years to come. It is essential for individuals to consider the possible outcomes of a divorce on their personal finances and plan accordingly. This may involve reassessing investment strategies, reevaluating career paths, or seeking financial advice to ensure a stable post-divorce financial situation.

Connect with McIntyre Tate LLP for Expert Legal Support

If you are navigating the complexities of a divorce in Providence, RI, and are seeking expert legal guidance, McIntyre Tate LLP is here to support you. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in family law and are well-versed in the nuances of Rhode Island's legal system. We understand the profound impact that divorce rulings can have on your financial and emotional well-being, and we are committed to advocating for your best interests. Whether you are facing property division challenges or exploring your options for alimony, our team is equipped to provide the personalized and strategic representation you need.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about how we can assist you during this pivotal time. At McIntyre Tate LLP, we are dedicated to helping our clients achieve favorable outcomes and secure their futures. Reach out to us at our Providence, RI office to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a new chapter in your life. Let us be your trusted partner in navigating the legal landscape of divorce with confidence and peace of mind.