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Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers: Modifying Rhode Island Child Support! by Christopher Pearsall

Guide to Calculating Child Support in Rhode Island: Is There A Minimum Amount? by David Slepkow
Motions to Modify Child Support in Rhode Island by David Slepkow
Private School Education & College Education - RI Child Support FAQS by David Slepkow
Rhode Island Child Support Law FAQS - Daycare, Overtime, Modification, College, Termination by David Slepkow


Rhode Island Divorce Lawyers: Modifying Rhode Island Child Support!  by Christopher Pearsall

* * * 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.

Visit
www.christopherpearsall.com for valuable Rhode Island divorce information and answers to your Rhode Island divorce questions.

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Guide to Calculating Child Support in Rhode Island: Is There A Minimum Amount?

How is Rhode Island (RI) Child Support determined in divorce cases, paternity cases, child support cases and child visitation cases?

In most cases, child support is determined by the "Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines". In the vast majority of child support cases in Rhode Island, the minimum Rhode Island child support guideline amount is used to determine child support.

However, a parent has the right to seek more then the minimum guidelines because the guidelines are supposed to be the minimum amount a parent will receive as child support. In Theory, The Guidelines are intended to be the floor rather then the ceiling for child support. In actuality, the minimum guidelines are used in the vast majority of Rhode Island Child Support cases.

The court is entitled to look at the assets of a party in determining child support. The Family Court can also look at extraordinary expenses of either party and can look at the needs and expenses of the parties. The Court can look at any circumstances the judge believes appropriate in determining child support. If a person is underemployed or refusing to work when capable of working then the court can determine the earning capacity of the party. Some Judges consistently go over the minimum child support guidelines.

The Rhode Island Child Support guidelines uses an income shares model in which the adjusted gross income of both parents are used to determine the correct amount of child support. Essentially, the guidelines look at the combined adjusted Gross income of both parties. Adjusted gross income means the gross income of a party with certain required deductions from gross income for medical insurance & dental insurance. Another required deduction is for additional minor dependants (children). There are also certain discretionary deductions that some judges may allow such as life insurance costs.

After determining the combined adjusted gross income of the parties, the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines should be utilized to determine what the state of Rhode Island believes that two parents with that amount of adjusted gross income would pay for support if the parents were still residing together. After that number is determined daycare expenses are added onto that amount.

The non custodial parent pursuant to the minimum guidelines should be obligated to pay a percentage of that amount set forth above that is the same same percentage of that persons adjusted gross income to the total adjusted gross income of both parties.

For example: If Mom makes $1000 a month and dad makes $4000 a month and each has $200 dollars of medical insurance payments then the adjusted gross income of mom is $800 and the adjusted gross income of dad is 3800. The combined adjusted gross income of both is $4600. Dad makes $82.6 percent of the combined adjusted gross income of the parties and is required to pay 82.6 percent of the minimum guideline amount guideline amount plus the daycare expenses.

The next step is to get a copy of the most recent version of the Rhode Island Child support Guidelines . This can be obtained at the Rhode Island Family Court. It is perplexing that, I cannot easily find the most recent guidelines on google . You need to look at the "Rhode Island Monthly Basic support Obligations" (effective October 1, 2002) (Please note that new child support tables should be coming out soon)

Assuming that the parties have two children the child support guidelines indicate that the correct child support amount is $956. assuming there is no daycare* in this hypothetical then the father would be obligated to pay 82.6 percent or $956 per month which would be $789.65 per month or $183 per week.

*(if there is daycare then add the work related child care costs minus the federal tax credit. Please note that the state of Rhode Island uses a rule of thumb of approximately 75 percent to 80 percent of the actual daycare expense)

The Guidelines in theory and in most cases in actuality are the minimum amount a person is required to pay. The judge has discretion to go over the minimum Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines if there is justification under the circumstances.

Some judges in Rhode island consistently go over the guidelines. The types of circumstances that may justify a judge issuing a child support order above the Rhode Island Child Support guidelines are:

a) Substantial assets
b) standard of living and expenses that far exceed reported gross income
c) extraordinary necessary expenses and needs related for the child

If the parties agree to child support below the Rhode Island child Support Guidelines, in some limited circumstances, it may be allowed. These circumstances could include, visitation exceeding the norm, extraordinary payments of the child expenses or even sometimes just based on the parties agreement.

David Slepkow is a Rhode Island lawyer concentrating in divorce, family law, child support, custody and visitation. David has been practicing for over 9 years and is licensed in Rhode Island , Massachusetts and Federal Court. David offers free initial consultations and accepts all major credit cards. You can contact David Slepkow at 401-437-1100 or by visiting his website at www.slepkowlaw.com

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Motions to Modify Child Support in Rhode Island

How is Child support modified in Rhode Island divorce and family law cases?

Child support in Rhode Island is not automatically modified when there is a change in circumstances. The parent must file a motion to modify child support. When a motion for modification of child support is filed a court date will be set by the clerk of the Rhode Island Family Court. In order to modify child support there must be a substantial change in circumstances. Under RI Law, a new child support amount does not run retroactive to when the circumstances actually changed! The new child support order should run retroactive to the date of the filing of the motion. Article by Attorney David Slepkow (401-437-1100)

Therefore, you should not wait too long after circumstances change until you file for a modification of Rhode Island Child Support. There must be at least a ten percent change for a modification to occur unless the party agrees otherwise. You should contact a Rhode Island Divorce or Family law lawyer / attorney to see whether you are eligible for a modification of child support.

What may constitute a substantial change in Circumstances pursuant to Rhode Island family / child support law?

1. unemployment
2. disability
3. new dependent child
4. decrease in income of either party
5. increase in income of either party
6. increase in cost of daycare
7. increase in cost of medical insurance
8. a change in the financial circumstances of the either parent such as inheritance, acquiring assets
9. either party obtaining social security benefits (SSI or SSDI) or afdc benefits
10. new RI Child Support Guidelines promulgated.
11. loss of overtime income
12 a substantial bonus of either party
13 any other change in circumstances that is recognized by the Court.

David Slepkow is a Rhode Island lawyer concentrating in divorce, family law, child support, custody and visitation. David has been practicing for over 9 years and is licensed in Rhode Island , Massachusetts and Federal Court. David offers free initial consultations and accepts all major credit cards. You can contact David Slepkow at 401-437-1100 or by visiting his website at www.slepkowlaw.com

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Private School Education & College Education - RI Child Support FAQS

In Rhode Island (RI) Divorce and Child support cases, Can I get the father or mother of my child to be ordered to pay for private school education?

No, unless there is a contractual obligation, a stipulated consent order or there is an ongoing divorce.

Most judges take the position that there are suitable public schools for children to attend. However, If there is something in writing such as a property settlement agreement obligating one parent to pay for the private school education of the child, then the parent may be obligated to pay for the private school education. Article by Rhode island attorney David Slepkow (401-437-1100)

Also, the parent could be ordered to pay for private school education in a divorce on a temporary basis, especially when it is in the middle of a school year and it would be disruptive for the child to transfer to a public school. Parents can certainly negotiate payment of private school education and the judge of The Family Court will usually approve the settlement in a court Order. That stipulated consent order could be enforced in a Family Court contempt proceeding.

Can I get the father or mother of my child to be ordered to pay for college?

No, Unless there is a written contractual agreement obligating payment of college expenses. Rhode Island child support terminates when a child turns 18 and graduates high school but not longer then the child attaining the age of 19. (Unless the child is severely disabled and then it goes unil the child turns 21)

The Court loses jurisdiction over the child when the child attains the age as set forth above. The Court cannot order payment of college but a Court may enforce a written property settlement agreement between the parties obligating payment of college.

David Slepkow is a Rhode Island lawyer concentrating in divorce, family law, child support, custody and visitation. David has been practicing for over 9 years and is licensed in Rhode Island , Massachusetts and Federal Court. David offers free initial consultations and accepts all major credit cards. You can contact David Slepkow at 401-437-1100 or by visiting his website at www.slepkowlaw.com

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Rhode Island Child Support Law FAQS - Daycare, Overtime, Modification, College, Termination

1) What if my child's parent 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-possessory parent's overtime will be used to calculate child support. One Judge in Rhode Island consistently rules that overtime compensation cannot be used to calculate child support.

Other Judges in Rhode Island have different opinions regarding overtime. The Family Court is a court of equity and fairness. Judges in Rhode Island will typically look at whether or not a person consistently works overtime over a substantial period of time. Judges may also look at whether or not overtime is consistently offered to a spouse. If overtime is infrequent or not typically offered Judges may be hesitant to calculate overtime as a factor of child support. In that case, many attorneys argue that a person's income should be calculated using their W2 or gross income for the entire calendar year. By calculating gross income over an entire calendar year even infrequent overtime becomes an element of child support.

Judges may also look at 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 possessory parent get a percentage of the overtime that is worked by the non-possessory parent. Other Judges in Rhode Island believe that overtime should always be a factor in child support. Often the issue of overtime is negotiated by the lawyers prior to any formal ruling by the Judge.

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

Under Rhode Island Law, child support should end when a child turns 18 and graduates high school. If the child is still in high school, then child 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 terminate child support is filed. If you are a non-possessory parent, your best option is to contact a lawyer to file a Motion to Terminate Child Support approximately 40 days prior to your child turning 18 and graduating high school. This will mean that the motion will be heard on a court date soon after the child turns 18. Please note that the non-possessory parent can still be found in contempt for failure to pay child support even after the child turns 18 if there is no motion granted to terminate the child support. If a child is seriously disabled, child support shall continue until the child turns 21 years old.

3) Can I get my child's father to be ordered to pay for my child's college education?

In Rhode Island the Court has no jurisdiction to order a parent to pay for the college education of his/her child. However, if pursuant to a Property Settlement Agreement or other contract, one party agrees to pay for a child's education, then that agreement may be enforced by a court of law. Therefore, if you seek to have your child's parent pay for your child's college education, then you must negotiate payment of college expenses as part of a global settlement of the divorce or custody agreement or other similar agreement.

4) Who is going to pay for my child's daycare?

The Rhode Island minimum child support guidelines take into account both the importance and expense of daycare. The child support guidelines and worksheet are used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid by the non-possessory parent. The bottom line is that a party will be ordered to pay approximately the same percentage of the daycare that the party makes in relation to that party's percentage of the combined gross income of both parties.

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

5) How do I modify, increase or terminate child support in Rhode Island?

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

David Slepkow is a Rhode Island lawyer concentrating in divorce, family law, child support, custody and visitation. David has been practicing for over 9 years and is licensed in Rhode Island , Massachusetts and Federal Court. David offers free initial consultations and accepts all major credit cards. You can contact David Slepkow at 401-437-1100 or by visiting his website at www.slepkowlaw.com

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