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Rhode Island Child Support Law FAQs: Daycare, Overtime, Modification, College, Termination

1) What if my child’s father works overtime? Will overtime be included in child support?

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

Other judges in Rhode Island have different opinions regarding overtime. Family Court is a court of equity and justice. Judges in Rhode Island will generally look at whether or not a person consistently works overtime over a substantial period of time. Judges may also consider whether or not overtime is consistently offered to a spouse. If overtime is infrequent or not typically provided, judges may hesitate to calculate overtime as a child support factor. In that case, many lawyers argue that a person’s income should be calculated using their W2, or gross income for the entire calendar year. When calculating gross earnings for a full calendar year, even infrequent overtime becomes an item of child support.

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

2) My child is about to turn 18 but is still in high school and lives at home, can I get child support?

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

Child support in Rhode Island automatically continues even after the child turns 18, unless a Motion to Cancel Child Support is filed. If you are a parent without possession, your best option is to contact an attorney to file a Motion to Cancel Child Support approximately 40 days before your child turns 18 and graduates from high school. This will mean that the motion will be heard at a court hearing shortly after the child turns 18. Note that the parent without possession can still be held in contempt for failure to pay child support even after the child turns 18 if no motion to end child support is granted. If a child is severely disabled, child support will continue until the child turns 21.

3) Can I order 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 their child’s college education. However, if pursuant to a Property Settlement Agreement or other contract, one party agrees to pay for a child’s education, then a court of law may enforce that agreement. Therefore, if you want your child’s parents to pay for your child’s college education, you must negotiate the payment of college expenses as part of a global divorce settlement or custody agreement or other similar arrangement.

4) Who is going to pay for my child’s day care?

Rhode Island’s minimum child support guidelines take into account both the importance and the cost of child care. The child support guidelines and worksheet are used to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid by the parent without possession. The bottom line is that a party will be ordered to pay approximately the same percentage of child care that the party earns relative to that party’s percentage of both parties’ combined gross income.

For example: if the husband earns $100,000.00 and the wife earns $50,000.00 the combined gross income of the parties is $150,000.00. Thus, the husband earns 66 percent of the income and will be ordered to pay 66 percent of child care in addition to child support. (There may be an adjustment to account for the federal tax credit.) This amount is added to the minimum amount in the Child Support Guidelines.

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

In Rhode Island, child support can only be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. To get a substantial change of circumstances, the child support amount must be 10 percent more or less than the previous child support order. The change in circumstances could result from the loss of a job, increased income for either party, new dependents, loss of overtime, unemployment, disability, etc.

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