Rhode Island Child Support Lawyer

Family, Divorce and Criminal Defense Lawyer Susan T. Perkins

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Child Support Lawyer in Rhode Island

An experienced Rhode Island child support lawyer understands that child support is not just about money. There are multiple things to consider when handling a child support case. When the health and livelihood of your child are at stake, it means more than dividing up a paycheck. Child support cases can be messy and emotional, especially if your family has gone through various hardships prior to your divorce or child support dilemma. If you’re facing a divorce with children involved, it’s important to have a skilled child support lawyer on your side to fight for you and the best interest of your child. 

Rhode Island child support lawyer Susan T. Perkins has been handling child support cases for many years and has the legal expertise, determination, and compassion to produce the best possible results for your child support case. Susan T. Perkins understands that a child needs financial stability in order to thrive. This is why she’s completely dedicated to her child support cases. For more information on how to properly and effectively prepare for your child support case in Rhode Island, contact the law office of Susan T. Perkins today. 

For child support enforcement please see the child support enforcement page.

What You Need to Know About Child Support in Rhode Island

Trying to decipher child support laws, child support payments, or child support enforcement can be an exhausting and confusing process. When the wellness of your child is involved, it can amplify the intensity of any situation. It’s common to be filled with questions about how child support works in Rhode Island. Below you’ll find helpful information that can clarify the child support process. 

What are the child support laws in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island Family Court places responsibility on both parents for the well-being and financial security of a child. These responsibilities are typically broken down between the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent is the one who spends less time with the child, which means they will be the parent making the child support payments. Since a child spends the majority of their time with a custodial parent, this parent directly supports the child due to the nature of their living arrangement. 

The amount of child support paid will be determined after the Rhode Island Family Court reviews a number of different elements, such as joint income, the child’s needs, their lifestyle before the divorce, and other important factors. Once a child support order is determined, the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to commit to these payments until the child reaches the age of maturity or until a modified order is approved by a judge. Of course, this is just a brief description of how a child support order is established by Rhode Island law. To hear more specific details on child support laws or how a child support order will affect you, contact our law firm today to speak with a child support lawyer. 

How is child support enforced in Rhode Island?

It probably comes as no surprise that child support payments often need to be enforced. When child support payments are overdue or if they’ve halted completely, it’s important to go through the proper channels to make sure that child support payments continue. In some circumstances, it’s helpful to contact the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services (CSS). If your child support was registered and ordered through their system, they can enforce child support by automatically withholding payments from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck, unemployment benefits, or other income. 

In other instances where child support is not enforced by CSS, it’s highly recommended to speak with a child support attorney that specializes in child support enforcement. A Rhode Island child support lawyer can help you file a motion to make sure that your child support payments resume as quickly as possible. Your child support lawyer will collect the necessary paperwork, properly file it for you, and stand next to you in court at your child support hearing. Because the filing of this paperwork can be complex and filled with legal jargon, it’s crucial to have a child support lawyer by your side to guide you through the process. Contact our family law office today to learn more about child support enforcement. 

How are child support payment amounts determined in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island Family Court follows a joint income model to calculate weekly child support payments. The philosophy behind this model is that the children continue their standard of living that stems from the income of both parents. According to the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services, child support payments are calculated by using the following steps: 

1. The court will consider the weekly gross income of both parents before taxes and before any other deductions. Living expenses are generally not deducted from gross income. Gross income includes income from all sources including workers compensation, temporary disability benefits, and social security disability benefits. Benefits received from the Family Independence Program are not considered income.

Any benefit received from Social Security is not considered income.

2. Mandatory deductions include:

  • Health insurance premiums
  • Pre-existing child support payments
  • Support for additional children
  • Cost of child care

Please note that the Court may consider the following discretionary deductions: retirement benefits, life insurance payments, extraordinary medical expenses, income tax adjustments, and payment of original marital debts. The deductions are then subtracted from the gross income of the parent.

3. Add both parent’s adjusted gross income together, refer to the guideline chart to determine the amount of monthly child support recommended for the number of children that the parties have in common. That amount is placed on the guideline worksheet. If there are child care expenses for the child, they are included in the calculation.

4. Determine each parent’s percentage share of the total monthly child support order.

5. The non-custodial parent is then responsible to pay the % of that monthly amount. The monthly order is broken down into a weekly order by dividing again by 4.3333.

6. Finally the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay that weekly amount by wage withholding. The weekly order will automatically be deducted from the parent’s check.

Contact our law office today to work with a child support attorney to estimate and determine what your child support payments should look like.

Does child support cover college education expenses in Rhode Island?

Whether or not your co-parent is responsible for your child’s education and college expenses will depend on the terms and conditions set in your divorce settlement. For instance, if this was established in your divorce agreement, then the parent who agreed to pay for your child’s college education is legally obligated to do so. However, child support payments that are calculated and ordered before your child goes to college don’t automatically include payments for higher education. If you’d like to ensure that your child receives payment for college or other training programs, contact our law office today to speak with a child support lawyer about your options. 

How do you modify, increase, or lower child support in Rhode Island?

It’s vital to understand that in order to modify, increase, or lower a child support order in Rhode Island, you must go through the appropriate legal channels. Modifications of child support payments cannot simply happen at your or your co-parent’s discretion. Any changes must be approved by a Rhode Island Family Court judge. 

To make changes to a child support order, you must be able to prove a substantial change in your circumstances. For instance, if you’ve lost your job, you’re expecting another child, or you’ve been diagnosed with an illness, you can file a motion to have your child support payments increased, lowered, or modified. A child support lawyer can help you fill out the necessary paperwork to make this request. Once this is completed, you’ll receive a hearing date where a family court judge will review your request and determine if it’s appropriate to have your child support payments modified. It’s important that you’re prepared for this hearing and that all documents are filled out completely and correctly. Because of this, it’s beneficial to have a child support lawyer to assist you with this process. If there’s an error in your paperwork or if you’re not supplying sufficient evidence to prove your life changes, your request will likely be denied. If you’d like to make changes to your current child support order, contact our law office today to learn more about this process. 

When does a child support obligation end in Rhode Island?

A non-custodial parent is obligated to make child support payments until the child turns 18 or finishes high school. So, if your child has turned 18, but is in the middle of their senior year in high school, they must finish high school first before child support payments are terminated. It’s important to remember that a parent must file a motion to have their child support payments terminated upon the child’s 18th birthday or completion of high school. The Rhode Island Family Court does not do this automatically. 

In addition, child support can continue past the time of the child’s 18th birthday or high school graduation if the child is severely disabled, as per Rhode Island law: 

§ 15-5-16.2. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the court, in its discretion, may order child support, in the case of a child with a severe physical or mental impairment still living with or under the care of a parent, beyond the child’s emancipation as defined above. The court shall consider the following factors when making its determination: (1) The nature and extent of the disability; (2) The cost of the extraordinary medical expenses; (3) The ability of the child to earn income; (4) The financial resources of the child; (5) The financial resources of the parents; (6) The inability of the primary caregiver of the child to sustain gainful employment on a full-time basis due to the care necessitated by the child. The onset of the disability must have occurred prior to the emancipation event. If a child support order for a child with a severe physical or mental impairment has been terminated, suspended, or expired, the court shall consider the factors in this paragraph and has the discretion to order child support for this child prospectively based upon established child support guidelines. The court may periodically review the case to determine if circumstances warrant the continuation of child support.

If you need to file to have your child support payments terminated or if you have questions about when your legal obligation to child support payments will end, contact our law office today to speak with a child support attorney. 

Contact Child Support Lawyer Susan T. Perkins for More Information

For over twenty years, Rhode Island child support attorney Susan T. Perkins has helped families around Rhode Island resolve their child support issues. When your child’s future, health, and well-being are on the line, she stops at nothing to assure you that your child is financially supported. If you need assistance with your child support case, contact the Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Susan T. Perkins today to schedule a free consultation. 

Rhode Island Child Support Lawyer Office

Rhode Island Child Support Lawyer

Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Susan T. Perkins, Esq.

462 Broadway
Providence , RI
02909

Phone: (401) 324-2990