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Divorce and child custody cases are complicated proceedings that can permanently affect your rights.

If possible, you should consult an attorney. You can find more information about lawyer referrals below.

The Basics

For basic information about these sorts of cases, visit these resources from Rhode Island Legal Services:

Basic Divorce Process

Basic Child Custody Process

Tips for Court

Choosing a Lawyer

When interviewing and choosing an attorney, you can and should ask them any questions you have to make sure they are a good fit for your case and your budget.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a list of relevent questions that you can use as a guide (scroll down to "Seeking Legal Assistance").

Lawyer Referrals

Volunteer Lawyer Program
The Rhode Island Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP), funded through a grant from Rhode Island Legal Services and the Rhode Island Bar Foundation, provides pro bono (free) legal services to qualified low-income Rhode Islanders. Participating attorneys provide legal assistance at no charge. The client’s income must qualify under federally regulated guidelines to receive pro bono assistance, and the case must fall under one of the areas of law handled by the VLP. Clients may be responsible for filing fees, court costs and other out-of-pocket expenses. For information, call 401-421-7758 or 1-800-339-7758. You may also email jellis@ribar.com.

Rhode Island Bar Association Lawyer Referral
Contact the Rhode Island Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at 401-421-7799.

Safety for Children

In 2010, the RICADV and SOAR published Safety for Children, a report on the impact of Rhode Island's custody system on victims of domestic violence and their children.

The report found that, even when victims of domestic violence attempt to protect their children and build violence-free lives, they too often continue to suffer injustice and abuse throughout the custody and visitation process.

Key Findings:

  • Domestic violence victims and their children continue to suffer violence and abuse during the child custody and visitation process.
  • There is a huge lack of available services to protect children during this process.
  • Child custody and visitation cases often drive victims of domestic violence into debt and poverty.
  • Domestic violence is minimized by the criminal justice system throughout this process.

The RICADV and SOAR continue to work with state and local systems to help improve the child custody and visitation process in Rhode Island in order to protect victims of domestic violence and their children.

For more information about the report, click here.