One of the most difficult moments in a parent’s life can be waiting to hear a judge’s decision on a child support order, child custody, or visitation rights. These can be very big decisions that affect almost every aspect of your life. Even if the judge rules in your favor, that feeling of permanence to this new lifestyle can be stressful. This is especially true in the case of child support. Are you receiving enough? Are you paying too much? Can these terms and amounts be modified at a later date? What if something changes in the future? What if you need to stop a child support order? It’s important for every divorced parent to know that you can indeed change a child support order in the state of Rhode Island.
In this article, we answer some of the above questions and provide more information on how to change a child support order if necessary.
How the State Calculates a Child Support Order
Before you file a motion to change a child support order, it’s helpful to understand how the state of Rhode Island establishes and calculates a child support order. The state utilizes an income shares model to identify what the weekly child support order should be. The state believes that a child is authorized to have the standard of living based on both parent’s income.
The court will do the following in order to determine a child support order:
- Take the weekly gross income of both parents before taxes or any other deductions.
- Make mandatory deductions from either parent such as health insurance premiums, support of another child, pre-existing child support payments, and the overall cost of childcare.
- Take the sum of each parent’s adjusting income together.
- Determine the total monthly child support from each parents percentage share.
- The non-custodial parent then becomes responsible to pay the percentage of that amount, which is broken down into weekly payments.
- The court will order the non-custodial parent to pay that amount through wage withholding. It will be automatically deducted from their paycheck.
Under What Circumstances Can You Change Your Child Support Order?
First, it’s important to know that it’s not advised to file a motion to change a child support order simply because you don’t like it. There should be a clear change in circumstances before you can file a motion to modify child support. It’s also important to know that if there is a major change in circumstances, child support orders don’t automatically change. There are specific steps you need to take to legally make this change.
If a significant change of circumstances appears, it’s highly advised to take action immediately. Child support does not run retroactively according to the moment your change in circumstances occurs. Child support only runs retroactively to the actual date you filed for motion. Don’t wait to file your motion.
Examples of Changes in Circumstance
The State of Rhode Island family court states that there must be at least a ten percent change in your circumstances to file. Here are some examples of significant changes in financial circumstances:
- Increase/decrease of income from either parent
- Increase/decrease cost of daycare, medical insurance, tuition or other essential childcare costs
- A new dependent child
- Loss of employment/income
- Either parent suddenly suffers from a major medical issue or disability
- Loss of overtime income
- A significant bonus or raise
- A significant inheritance from a deceased relative resulting in an increase of assets
How to Stop a Child Support Order
Child support orders do not automatically stop when a child turns 18 graduates from high school. When a child turns 18 and they’ve graduated from high school, it just means that you’re eligible to file a motion to terminate child support payments. However, if your child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, child support payments will continue until graduation.
You should start filing paperwork to terminate your child support order a month before graduation or their 18th birthday. It will take about a month to schedule a termination hearing. You want to complete this in a timely manner. If not, you may have problems on tax forms or on other financial records in the future.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Change a Child Support Order?
It is possible to file a motion to change a child support order on your own. However, it’s not always advised. What legally constitutes a “significant change in circumstances” can become murky in family courts. Having an experienced attorney that specializes in child custody and child support is your best option.
If you’re considering filing a motion to modify a child support order, contact a family law attorney as soon as possible. A child support attorney can help you to stop, increase, or decrease child support orders according to your circumstances.