Title 15
Domestic Relations

Chapter 5
Divorce and Separation

R.I. Gen. Laws § 15-5-19

§ 15-5-19. Restraining orders — Treatment for harmed or menaced spouse — Custody of children — Allowances — Alimony and counsel fees.

(a) Whenever either party to a marriage is insane, or whenever a cause is in existence which is, or if continued, will be a cause for divorce, the family court, upon the original petition of one of the parties, or upon the filing of a complaint for divorce, may restrain either party from interfering with the personal liberty of the other, and may restrain either party from maliciously causing or attempting to cause bodily harm to the other, with or without a dangerous weapon, and may restrain either party from placing, by physical menace or threat of physical menace, the other in fear of imminent bodily injury; and upon a finding by the court that any party has been so harmed, menaced, or threatened the court may prescribe treatment including, but not limited to, out-patient counseling, and may regulate the custody and provide for the education, maintenance, and support of the children, if any, and may, in its discretion, order one of the parties to pay alimony and/or counsel fees to the other pursuant to § 15-5-16, which allowance shall not be regarded as a judgment for debt until the court, which made the order for maintenance and support of the children, alimony for one or the other of the parties, and counsel fees, has adjudicated in appropriate proceedings what, if anything, is due under the order. Suits may be brought or executions may issue for amounts due and unpaid, the executions to run against the goods and chattels of the husband or wife, as the case may be; the court may make all necessary orders and decrees concerning the suits or executions and at any time may alter, amend, or annul for sufficient cause, after notice to the interested parties.

(b)(1) Any violation of the protective orders mentioned in subsection (a) of this section shall subject the defendant to being found in contempt of court.

(2) The contempt order shall not be exclusive and shall not preclude any other available civil or criminal remedies.

(c) Any violation of a restraining order under this chapter protecting a person against bodily harm and/or against threat of imminent bodily injury shall be a misdemeanor which shall be punished by a fine of no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. The penalties for violation of this section shall also include the penalties provided in § 12-29-5. The district court has criminal jurisdiction over violations of restraining orders protecting the person of the complainant against bodily harm and/or against the threat of imminent bodily injury.

(d) In regulating the custody of the children, the court shall provide for the reasonable right of visitation by the natural parent not having custody of the children except upon the showing of cause as to why the right should not be granted. The court shall mandate compliance with its orders by both the custodial parent and the children. In the event of noncompliance, the non-custodial parent may file a motion for contempt in family court. Upon a finding by the court that its order for visitation has not been complied with, the court shall exercise its discretion in providing a remedy, and define the non-custodial parent’s visitation in detail. However, if a second finding of noncompliance by the court is made, the court shall consider this to be grounds for a change of custody to the non-custodial parent.

(e) In all hearings regarding denial of visitation, the court shall make findings of fact.

(f) This chapter does not affect the right of the family court to award alimony or support pendente lite.

History of Section.
G.L. 1938, ch. 416, § 20; P.L. 1954, ch. 3309, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 15-5-19; impl. am. P.L. 1961, ch. 73, § 14; P.L. 1978, ch. 138, § 1; P.L. 1979, ch. 279, § 2; P.L. 1979, ch. 338, § 1; P.L. 1980, ch. 406, § 6; P.L. 1981, ch. 320, § 2; P.L. 1985, ch. 433, § 1; P.L. 1988, ch. 539, § 5.