Rhode Island Child Support Laws and Guidelines

The laws governing child support in Rhode Island are different from that of other states. RI child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.

Child support is a legal obligation that a parent has to provide financial assistance to their child, even if the parents are no longer together. Rhode Island, like other states in the United States, has specific laws and guidelines that determine how much child support a parent should pay. Understanding these laws and guidelines can help parents navigate the child support process more easily.

What is RI Child Support Laws?

Rhode Island’s child support laws are designed to ensure that children receive the financial support they need to thrive. These laws apply to all parents, regardless of whether they are married, divorced, or never married. Under Rhode Island law, both parents have a duty to support their children until they reach the age of 18, or until they graduate from high school, whichever occurs later.

What does Child Support Cover in Rhode Island?

Child support in Rhode Island is meant to cover the basic needs of a child, including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. It can also be used to cover expenses related to education, childcare, and extracurricular activities. However, child support does not cover all of a child’s expenses, such as entertainment or travel costs.

Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Rhode Island

To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Rhode Island is no exception.

The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Rhode Island courts do not have the authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.

As a result of the UIFSA, a RI child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.

How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Rhode Island?

How Child Maintenance Calculated In Rhode Island

Learn How Child Maintenance Calculated In Rhode Island

To calculate child maintenance, Rhode Island uses the RI Income Shares Model. This can be done easily using the Rhode Island Child Support Calculator or Child Support Worksheet.

Rhode Island uses a formula to calculate child support, which takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and other factors. The state’s child support guidelines provide a detailed explanation of how this formula is used to determine the amount of child support that should be paid.

Rhode Island Child Support Calculator and Worksheet

While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the RI courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents.

Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.

The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.

How Rhode Island Guidelines are Applied

The RI court will use child support guidelines, which are law-based and are sometimes known simply as “Guidelines.  Guidelines establish a fundamental minimum amount of child maintenance, from which the court can differ after considering a variety of considerations.

The criteria are believed to be rational, and a decision of support that conforms to the guidelines is believed to be in the best interest of the child,” according to the guidelines.

Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance

For child support calculation purposes, gross income includes:

  • all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
  • self-employment income
  • interest and dividends
  • net rental income from property the parent owns

Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:

  • severance pay
  • unemployment benefits
  • retirement benefits
  • veterans’ benefits
  • disability benefits, or
  • workers’ compensation awards.

A RI family court judge may also allocate an income value to parents who do not currently have income-earning employment (like a second house). If a jobless parent inherits assets that can be sold, for instance, the judge may include the property’s market value as a part of such parent’s income.

Where parents willfully go unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, judges may infer (assign) income based on what they are supposed to be earning.

Net Income for RI Guidelines

How to determine Net Income for RI child support

How to determine Net Income for RI child support

Remove the following costs from the total gross income to get the parent’s net income for paying child support in Rhode Island:

  • Social Security taxes, or any mandated retirement plan contributions if the parent does not pay those taxes.
  • Income taxes, both federal and state (based on the tax rate for a single person claiming one exemption)
  • union dues
  • The RI court has ruled the parent to pay the child’s health and dental insurance premiums, as well as additional medical bills.

Parents who have already paid child support for another kid or children (from a previous relationship) may be eligible for a refund.

Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Rhode Island?

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Rhode Island

Medical Health Insurance and Child Support in Rhode Island

Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Rhode Island, the parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.

Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.

For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.

Factors Rhode Island Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance

The following factors must be considered by the court when determining whether Rhode Island Family Code applies:

  • The age of the child and needs; the parents’ ability to assist
  • Financial resources available to the child
  • For a set period of time, you have custody and access to a child.
  • An increase or decrease in the obligee’s earnings or income due to the obligee’s property and assets
  • Childcare expenses incurred by either parent in order to keep a job
  • any other children under the care of either party
  • Any other children under the care of either party
  • What kind of alimony or spousal maintenance is being paid or received;
  • Obligor or obligee receives an automobile, house, or other benefits from his or her employer or business entity.
  • The parties or the child’s special education, health care, or other expenses
  • The cost of traveling to obtain custody of and access to a child.
  • Cash flow from any estate and assets, including real estate, personal property, and business property, can be positive or negative.

How to Challenge or Modify Child Support Order

A parent must show that there’s been a substantial change in circumstances in order to alter child support. A Rhode Island court may consider an alteration if:

  • a parent’s employment has been lost,
  • migrated to another country,
  • Alternatively, if the custody agreement has changed.

Additionally, if the legal order has been in existence for at least 3 years and the current support amount differs by 20% or $100 from the most recent Guidelines, the obligor may visit the Office of Attorney General Child Support Division (OAG) to explore modifying it.

Steps to Collect Child Support in Rhode Island

Steps to Collect Child Support in Rhode Island

Steps to Collect Child Support in Rhode Island

Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Rhode Island. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in RI

1. Open a Child Support Case

Complete a child support application with your local child support agency/office

2. Locate the Other Parent

To begin the child maintenance procedure in RI, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.

3. Establish Parentage

It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.

4. Establish a Child Support Order

A Rhode Island child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.

5. Set Up Payment

Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.

6. Enforce the Support Order

Your RI child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.

7. Review the Order

Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.

Retroactive Child Support and Arrears

Retroactive child support in Rhode Island is the amount of child support that was not paid in the past but should have been paid. This may occur when a child support order was not established or when a parent falls behind on their child support payments.

Arrears, on the other hand, refer to the amount of child support that is owed but has not yet been paid. This may include both current child support and any past-due payments.

Rhode Island allows for retroactive child support and may order a parent to pay arrears. The amount of retroactive child support or arrears is typically calculated based on the amount of child support that should have been paid according to the guidelines at the time the payments were due.

If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.

How to Check your Child Support Payment History in RI

Child Support Payment History in RI

How to Check Child Support Payment History in RI

When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.

When Does Child Support End in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island court “may order that one or both parents support a child until:

  • the child is 18 years or finishes high school (whichever comes last),
  • the child emancipates by getting married,
  • the child’s disabilities are removed, or
  • the child dies.

Nevertheless, if the judge determines that the child is disabled (physically or mentally), the child can receive support perpetually.

Custody Rights of a Child in Rhode Island

Understanding Custody Rights of a Child in Rhode Island

How Does RI Child Support Work if one Parent Has no Job?

If one parent does not have a job or has a low income, they may still be required to pay child support in RI, although the amount may be reduced based on their financial situation.

If a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the court may impute income to that parent, meaning they will be assigned a potential earning capacity based on their education, work experience, and job opportunities in their local area. This is to prevent a parent from avoiding their child support obligations by intentionally remaining unemployed or underemployed.

In some cases, the court may also consider other factors such as a parent’s disability, health issues, or other financial obligations when determining child support. It is important to note that child support can be modified if there is a significant change in either parent’s financial circumstances, such as a job loss or an increase in income.

Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Rhode Island?

NO. In Rhode Island, child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.

However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.

Getting a Skilled Rhode Island Child Support Attorney

If you are involved in a family law matter in Rhode Island, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.

If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in RI with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.

Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.

Click Here to Get our Free ????? Alimony recommendation.

Rhode Island Resource

- Rhode Island Child Adoption Guidelines
- Rhode Island Childcare Guidelines
- Rhode Island Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines
- Rhode Island Divorce Guidelines
- Rhode Island Marital Property Guidelines
- Rhode Island Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Rhode Island Child Support Payment History
- Rhode Island Child Support Calculator
- Rhode Island Grants and Assistance for Single Mothers

Child Support Laws in all 50 States

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T-U - Tennessee |  Texas |  Utah
V-W - Vermont |  VirginiaWashington DC | Washington StateWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming



Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.