* * * What is Rhode Island Child Support? * * * In Rhode Island, child support is most typically a monetary amount of money that is paid by the parent having visitation with the child or children. It is an amount that the court deems the child(ren) is entitled to from both parents for the child’s support. The parent having visitation is then generally ordered to pay his or her percentage share of the total support amount that is calculated to be due to the child(dren) based upon that parent’s percentage of his or her income to the combined gross income of both parents of the child.
* * * How is Rhode Island Child Support calculated? * * *
Rhode Island Child Support is set pursuant to the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines with adjustments by the Rhode Island Family Court judge as provided in the guidelines or within the Judge’s discretion as allowed by law since the Rhode Island Child support guidelines could never anticipate every factual set of circumstances under which adjustments should be made.
* * * When are Motions to Modify your Child Support typically filed? * * *
A Motion to Modify a Child Support obligation is typically filed with the Rhode Island Family Court when there is a “substantial change in circumstances”. Generally speaking a substantial change in circumstances occur when the combined gross income of the parents of the child has changed by 10% from the time when the Rhode Island Family Court last entered an order for child support.
* * * What could cause a 10% “substantial change in circumstances”? * * *
1. Loss of a job or layoff. 2. Loss of paid medical benefits through your employer. 3. Hospitalizations 4. New job that pays more or less money. 5. Birth of a new child to either parent. 6. Discontinued overtime from your employer. 7. Child is working and contributing to the placement household. 8. Unemployment 9. Out on TDI, are hospitalized 10. Any other circumstance that causes a change of at least 10% in the combined gross income of both parents.
* * * Will the Rhode Island Judge give me retroactive credits? * * *
Under Rhode Island Domestic Relations Law the family court judge assigned to hear your case has the authority in his or her discretion to grant you credit retroactive to the date you filed your Motion to Modify Child Support. Therefore, if you get laid off or experience any substantial reduction in income that may prevent you from paying your child support as required by the court then you should hand-file your Motion to Modify Child Support with the Rhode Island Family Court because the date of your filing is the farthest date that the judge may award you retroactive child support.
* * * What if I can’t make my payments as periodically ordered? * * *
If you have to pay child support on a weekly basis but you are unable to do so, it is generally best to file a Motion for Relief. This is different from a Motion to Modify Child Support because a Motion for Relief does not require that you meet the “substantial circumstances” test. The Motion for Relief would simply request a Modification of the terms under which your payments are made.
For instance, if you are ordered to pay your child support on a weekly basis but your income fluctuates substantially such that you may have no income in any given week then it may be better to pay your child support bi-weekly or even monthly (in advance) in order to account for your income fluctuation.
A Motion for Relief can be very helpful, especially when you are looking more for an accommodation of an existing condition and you have a justifiable basis for it.
* * * What should I watch for when calculating Rhode Island Child Support? * * *
Child Support is not nearly as simple as some Rhode Island Divorce and family law attorneys make it out to be. Unfortunately some lawyers choose to oversimplify child support and how it is calculated rather than running through it with their client.
It is also very easy for a layperson to misunderstand the guidelines themselves. Though the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines and the worksheet provided by the court are intended to inform lawyers and pro se individuals about the use of the form and the manner in which the calculations are to be made, there is a significant amount of practical application that is not explained in the guidelines. The guidelines also won’t help you to understand each family court judge’s philosophy.
Always make sure you check the “Mandatory” deductions that are set forth on the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines worksheet and include them on the worksheet.
Per the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines you are entitled to these deductions off your gross income and it could make a significant difference in your child support obligation. Double check your attorney’s calculations if you like but make certain that you receive those deductions if you are entitled to them.
Authored By: Attorney Christopher Pearsall Pearsall Law Associates 571 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston, RI 02910 Website: http://www.ChristopherPearsall.com Phone: (401) 354-2369