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 Form and Guidelines”. In the vast majority of cases in Rhode Island, the Rhode Island minimum support guideline amount is used to determine child support.
However, a parent has the right to ask for more than the minimum guidelines because the guidelines are meant to be the minimum amount a parent will receive as child support. In theory, the guidelines are intended to be the floor rather than the ceiling of the support. In fact, the minimum guidelines are used in the vast majority of Rhode Island support cases. Article by RI Child Support Attorney.
The court has the right to look at a party’s assets to determine child support. The family court may also review extraordinary expenses of either party and may review the needs and expenses of the parties. The court may consider any circumstances the judge deems appropriate to determine child support. If a person is underemployed or refuses to work while able to work, the court may determine the party’s earning capacity. Some judges consistently exceed minimum child support guidelines.
The Rhode Island guidelines use an income splitting model in which the adjusted gross income of both parents is 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 a party’s gross income with certain required deductions from gross income for medical and dental insurance. Another required deduction is for additional minor dependents (children). There are also some discretionary deductions that some judges may allow, such as life insurance costs.
After determining the combined adjusted gross income of the parties, the RI guidelines should be used to determine what the State of Rhode Island estimates two parents with that amount of adjusted gross income would pay for child support if the parents still resided. whole. Once this number is determined, the childcare costs are added to this amount.
The non-custodial parent, under the minimum guidelines, should be obligated to pay a percentage of this amount stated above which is the same percentage of that person’s Adjusted Gross Income to the total Adjusted Gross Income of both parties.
For example: if mom earns $1,000 per month and dad earns $4,000 per month and each has $200 in medical insurance payments, mom’s adjusted gross income is $800 and dad’s adjusted gross income is 3,800. The combined adjusted gross income of the two is $4,600. Dad earns 82.6% of the combined adjusted gross income of the parties and must pay 82.6% of the minimum guideline amount plus childcare costs.
The next step is to obtain a copy of the most recent version of the RI guidelines. This can be obtained from the RI Family Court or online.
Assuming the parties have two children, the child support guidelines say the correct amount of child support is $956. assuming there is no daycare* in this scenario, the father would then be obligated to pay 82.6% or $956 per month, or $789.65 per month or $183 per week.
*(if there is child care, add work-related child care expenses less federal tax credit. Please note that the state of Rhode Island uses a rule of thumb of approximately 75% to 80% actual child care expenses) In accordance with the Child Support Guidelines Act 2018, the non-custodial parent is also entitled to a deduction from their gross income for the amount they pay for child care.
The guidelines, in theory and in most cases in reality, are the minimum amount a person is required to pay. The judge has the discretion to go beyond the minimum guidelines if there is justification in the circumstances.
The types of circumstances that may warrant a judge making a support order above Rhode Island’s support guidelines are:
a) Significant assets
b) a standard of living and expenses that far exceed the declared gross income
c) necessary extraordinary expenses and needs related to the child
If the parties agree to child support below Rhode Island’s support guidelines, it will be allowed. These circumstances may include visits exceeding the norm, extraordinary payments of the child’s expenses or even sometimes simply on the basis of the agreement of the parties.