Rhode Island Child Support

Rhode Island Child Support

Rhode Island Child Support

Ever feel like there is nowhere to turn for specific answers to your child support case in Rhode Island?

Relax. There is.

Child Support in RI: What You Need to Know

Without fail, decisions involving your children are some of the hardest to make in any divorce. The purpose of child support is to ensure that the children involved in a divorce receive the financial care they need—no matter what the conditions of your custody arrangement are.

If you have sole custody, then you want reassurance that you’ll always have the means to care for your child. That’s also true if you have joint custody or visitation rights because you don’t want to be thrown into financial ruin by child support payments you can’t afford, either.

That’s why attorney Paul Ferns is here for you. As one of the top child support lawyers in RI, Attorney Ferns can explain Rhode Island’s child support guidelines and show you how they apply to your situation. He can help you and your ex-spouse through this stressful time to reach the agreement that’s best for your child.

Who is entitled to child support? RI child support basics

In Rhode Island, the custodial parent acts as the child’s primary caretaker and is entitled to receive child support payments. The non-custodial parent, who shares either joint custody or visitation rights with the custodial parent, is obliged to pay child support.

The custodial parent isn’t always the mother, nor is the non-custodial parent always the father—although that’s usually the norm. Both fathers and mothers are entitled to seek child support in RI when the situation warrants it. And both parents are entitled to an arrangement that suits both their financial needs.

How are Rhode Island child support payments determined?

Child support payments are determined using the RI child support guidelines detailed by the Rhode Island Family Court. You can view these guidelines on the RI Child Support Office’s official website.

Remember that these guidelines are intended to calculate a recommended minimum payment—not a maximum. You can absolutely seek higher payments if you feel that you need them. Many judges will rule above the minimum guidelines when they feel the support is justified.

RI child support calculator: How to calculate your payments

Child support in RI is calculated on a dual-income model. This means that the adjusted gross income of both spouses is the basis used to determine your child support payments

For example, if the custodial parent makes $40,000 per year after adjusting for expenses, and the non-custodial parent makes $60,000, then the combined gross income of both parents is $100,000 per year. This means that the non-custodial parent makes 60% of the combined income and is thus required to pay for 60% of the child’s expenses, plus any daycare costs.

The idea is that your child should receive the same financial care that they would if both parents still lived together. If you’re currently unemployed, either voluntarily or due to a layoff, the court will impute your income based on your previous or potential earnings to determine the amount of your child support payments. You can find the official formula for determining payments at the RI Office of Child Support or go to the child support RI login page for more information.

What other factors does the court look at when determining child support in Rhode Island?

The court will look at both parents’ assets, expenses and other circumstances when determining child support payments. They’ll also take any extraordinary expenses for the child into consideration, such as medical bills for children with special needs.

If the custodial parent is unable to work due to disability, inadequate employment skills or because of caring for a child with special needs, the judge may also order higher payments to ensure that the child receives proper care.

How long does child support last? RI child support services for children over 18

According to Rhode Island law, child support should last until your child turns 18 and graduates high-school. If your child is 18 but hasn’t yet graduated, you can receive child support payments until your child turns 19.

However, there may be cases where child support can last past a child’s 19th birthday. If your child is mentally or physically handicapped and requires round-the-clock care, you can petition the court to extend your child support payments or even continue them indefinitely, depending on the severity of your child’s disability.

It’s important for the non-custodial parent to note that child support payments in RI do not automatically stop the moment your child turns 18. The only way to stop RI child support payments is to file a motion to terminate child support. You should file one of these motions at least a month before your child’s 18th birthday if you want to avoid paying child support after your child becomes an adult.

How to avoid paying child support: Rhode Island law

There are several reasons why a non-custodial parent might be wondering how to avoid child support payments. They could be facing financial difficulties, including:

  • Loss of income or employment
  • Rent Increase
  • Unforeseen medical bills or expenses
  • Disability or work-related injuries

Sometimes, a non-custodial parent may be perfectly capable of making their payments but refuse to do so, simply because they resent their ex-spouse. Deliberately withholding child support payments can leave you open to court sanctions and penalties.

Judges have little patience for parents who play petty games with essential funds for their children. If a judge finds that you deliberately withheld child support payments when you were otherwise able to pay them, they may find you to be in willful contempt. This ruling can come with steep penalties, including time in an ACI (jail!).

I’m unable to make my child support payments. How can I lower them?

If you’re struggling to make your child support payments, don’t just stop paying them. Even if you can prove that you’re financially unable to make your payments, the court can still find you to be in technical contempt. Although a ruling of technical contempt won’t land you in an ACI, you can still have your wages garnished, be ordered to pay a lump-sum, or even be ordered to find a second job.

Contact our office immediately if you’re unable to afford your child support payments. We can file a motion to modify child support on your behalf or help you work with the Office of Child Support RI to file a motion for relief.

Reaching an agreement outside of court

It’s important to note that a court-ordered arrangement is not the only way to settle your child support payments. Many parents come to agreements on custody and child support outside of a courtroom through the help of experienced lawyers like Paul Ferns.

Why Paul J Ferns is right for you

Through his calm, rational approach, Attorney Ferns can act on your behalf to negotiate the financial support you and your children need. He strives to act with compassion and fairness, and his clients always appreciate the measured approach he brings to the table. Contact his office today to receive the help you deserve.

Relax. We have you covered