Rhode Island Child Support Law Frequently Asked Questions – Daycare, Overtime, Amendment, College, Termination

1) What if my child’s parent works overtime? Is overtime included in child support?

There is no consistent law or rule in Rhode Island as to whether or not the non-owning parent’s overtime is used to calculate child support. A judge in Rhode Island consistently rules that overtime compensation cannot be used to calculate child support.

Other judges in Rhode Island have different opinions on overtime. The family court is a court of equity and fairness. Judges in Rhode Island typically consider whether or not a person regularly works overtime for an extended period of time. Judges can also consider whether or not a spouse is consistently offered overtime. When overtime is rare or not typically offered, judges may be reluctant to calculate overtime as a factor in child support. In this case, many attorneys argue that a person’s income should be calculated based on their W2 or gross income for the entire calendar year. By calculating the gross income over a whole calendar year, even infrequent overtime becomes child support.

Judges may also consider other factors such as the needs and expenses of both parties and extraordinary expenses for the child. At least one judge has suggested that the possessive parent receive a percentage of overtime worked by the non-possessive parent. Other Rhode Island judges hold that overtime should always be a factor in child support. Often the issue of overtime is negotiated by the lawyers before the judge makes a formal decision.

2) My child will soon be 18 but is still in high school and lives at home. Can I still get child support?

Under Rhode Island law, child support should end when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. If the child is still in high school, child support will continue until the child turns 19.

Child support in Rhode Island will automatically continue even after the child turns 18 unless a request to end child support is filed. If you are a non-owning parent, it is best to contact an attorney to file a request to end child support approximately 40 days before your child turns 18 and graduates from high school. This means that the application will be heard at a court hearing soon after the child turns 18. Please note that even after the child turns 18, the non-possessive parent can still be convicted for non-payment of child support if a request for termination of child support has not been made. If a child is severely disabled, child maintenance will be continued until the child reaches the age of 21.

3) Can I get my child’s father to pay for my child’s college education?

In Rhode Island, the court does not have jurisdiction to order a parent to pay for his/her child’s college education. However, if under a settlement agreement or other agreement, a party agrees to pay for a child’s education, that agreement can be enforced in court. Therefore, if you are attempting to have your child’s parents pay for college, you must negotiate payment of the college tuition as part of an overall settlement of the divorce or custody agreement, or other similar arrangement.

4) Who pays for the care of my child?

Rhode Island’s minimum child support policies recognize both the importance and cost of childcare. The Child Support Guidelines and Worksheet are used to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid by the non-owning parent. The bottom line is that a party is required to pay approximately the same percentage of day care that the party provides in proportion to that party’s percentage of both parties’ combined gross income.

Example: If the husband earns $100,000.00 and the wife earns $50,000.00, the combined gross income for the parties is $150,000.00. According to this, the husband earns 66 percent of the income and is sentenced to 66 percent of childcare in addition to child support. (There may be an adjustment to account for the federal tax credit.) This amount is added to the Child Support Guidelines minimum.

5) How do I change, increase or end child support in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, child support can only be changed if circumstances change materially. In order to achieve a significant change in circumstances, the child support amount must be 10 percent more or less than the old child support decision. The change in circumstances may result from loss of job, increase in income of both parties, new dependents, loss of overtime, unemployment, disability, etc.