Rhode IslandChild Support Laws
Rhode Island Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Rhode Island has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Rhode Island, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Rhode Island uses the "income share" method for calculating child support payments, which is designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child's upkeep.
Rhode Island's child support formula directly accounts for parents who share custody of a child, and support payment amounts are connected to the custody split. Other special situations accounted for under Rhode Island's child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Rhode Island child support order.
To determine if an appointment should be made, the court will consider the extent to which a guardian might assist in providing information concerning:
- the best interests of the child
- the age of the child
- the wishes of the parents
- the parent's financial resources
- the nature of the proceeding (level of contentiousness)
- whether or not there are allegations of child/domestic abuse
- the risk of harm to the child if a guardian is not appointed
- conflicts of interest between the child, parents, or siblings
- The guardian ad litem will be appointed from a list of persons properly credentialed to administrative orders of the court
- The court will enter an order of appointment stating the specific assignment, the optional/mandatory duties of the guardian ad litem, the guardian's access to the child, and confidential information regarding the child, and a provision for payment of the costs and fees of the guardian ad litem
- Communications made to a guardian, including those made by a child, are not privileged and may or may not be disclosed to the parties, the court or to professionals providing services to the child or the family
- The guardian ad litem will meet with the child, conduct an investigation, and upon request of the court will prepare an oral or written report containing the background of the case, identification of all persons interviewed, and other sources of information. A statement of the child's emotional, medical, educational and social service needs, the child's wishes and other factors relevant to the court's determination regarding the best interests of the child
- Any written report of the guardian ad litem will be marked as a full exhibit in the proceedings, and are subject to cross-examination
- If the guardian ad litem requests confidential health care information and consent is withheld, they can apply to the court for leave to obtain such information
- The guardian ad litem will be given notice of and should appear at all proceedings in court that affect the child
- A person serving as a guardian ad litem acts as the court's agent and is entitled to quasi-judicial immunity for acts performed within the scope of the duties of the guardian ad litem
- The chief judge of the family court can issue rules governing the appointment and performance of guardians ad litem in domestic proceedings.
After calculating support based upon court established formula and guidelines, if the court, in its discretion, finds the order would be inequitable to the child or either parent, the court can make findings of fact and can order either or both parents owing a duty of support to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support after considering all relevant factors such as:
- The financial resources of the child
- The financial resources of the custodial parent
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
- The physical and emotional condition of the child and their educational needs
- The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent
In any proceeding for support, or in any case in which an obligor owes past due support, for a child receiving public assistance, the court, upon a finding that an able bodied parent obligor is unemployed, underemployed or lacks sufficient income or resources from which to make payment of support equal to the public assistance payment for the child or children, or is unable to pay in accordance with a payment plan, may order that parent to perform unpaid community service for at least 20 hours per week through community service placements arranged and supervised by the department of human services or to participate in any work activities that the court decides is appropriate.
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Rhode Island family court through a child support order. In Rhode Island, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Rhode Island Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Rhode Island?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Rhode Island?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Rhode Island?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Rhode Island?
- How is child support enforced in Rhode Island?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Rhode Island?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Rhode Island?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Rhode Island law accounts for shared custody of a child directly in the child support formula used to calculate payment amounts. This means that, in cases where custody is shared, the amount of child support paid by the paying parent will be reduced according to the amount of time they have custody of the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Rhode Island treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Rhode Island?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Rhode Island has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Rhode Island treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Rhode Island?
While the state of Rhode Island has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Rhode Island?
In the state of Rhode Island, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Rhode Island welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Rhode Island?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Rhode Island tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.