Legal Question in Family Law in Rhode Island

In the state of rhode island what is a de facto parent and what are their rights?

Asked on 2/06/14, 6:37 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Christopher Pearsall Law Office of Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire

This is a loaded question because it is factually driven in each case and a determination of the court. A "de factor parent" is a person who stands in the position of a parent based upon an interested person's interaction and relationship with the child. In Rhode Island the right of an interested person to make such a claim is basically set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws �15-8-26 which states, "

"Any interested party may bring an action to determine the existence or nonexistence of a mother and child relationship. The provisions of this chapter applicable to the father and child relationship shall apply as far as practicable."

(Current through Public Law 534 of the 2013 Legislative Session)

Typically that interaction must be long term and the interested person must have acted in the same or a substantially similar role as a parent would to the child on a regular basis. Yet this is merely a guideline. Each set of circumstances is based upon the facts of each case.

While you might like a "list" of rights if a "de facto" parent relationship is determined, there is no such list. To give you a better idea of how factually driven cases are, I recommend that you read the case of Rubano v. DiCenzo found at in order to understand the complex interrelationship between facts, law, and court decisions.

While I know that many people would like cut and dry answers with respect to their questions, there often isn't one that can be universally applied. Facts almost always have a role to play in each case and when those facts are extracted, general answers don't usually exist.

Depending upon the facts of the relationship. the nature of the parties, the mental state of the child, and many other factors, there is nothing to prevent the court from expanding or limiting the role and/or consequently the rights of a de facto parent in each case.

Read the case cited and you will understand much better what I mean. In the meantime, depending upon your situation, you might want to take the time to present that facts to an experienced family lawyer to get a better bead on what you are looking for, hoping for and/or expecting.

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Answered on 2/07/14, 5:33 am

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