Getting a divorce can be a stressful experience. You should have all of the information you can before you start the divorce process. Not knowing how the judge will rule is one thing, but not knowing the process is something completely different. Today we are going to take a look at the process of calculating child support in Rhode Island.
Calculating Child Support: The Factors
The State of Rhode Island uses what is they call the income shares model in calculating child support. The central philosophy of this model is that the children are entitled to a standard of living based on both parents monthly incomes. When calculating child support, the court will look at the following factors:
- Weekly gross income is the first factor in calculating child support. Each parent’s income before taxes and other deductions is what the court uses. This doesn’t allow for deductions for living expenses. Income from all sources including workers compensation, disability benefits, and social security disability factors into the courts ruling.
- The next factor in calculating child support is factoring in mandatory deductions. These deductions include health insurance, pre-existing child support payments, and support of additional children. The court may also take discretionary deductions into consideration. Examples of discretionary deductions include retirement benefits, life insurance premiums, medical expenses, and income tax adjustments. The total of these deductions is subtracted from each parent’s gross income and make up their adjusted gross incomes.
- The court then takes the adjusted gross income for each parent and adds them together. This is how they determine the standard of living for the child. This number is then compared to a chart, and the court determines the amount of monthly child support the child needs. The court uses a form called the guideline worksheet.
- Each parent then pays their portion of the child support. The non-custodial parent is the responsible to pay the % of the monthly amount. The court sets up a weekly payment through wage withholding.
Here’s an Example
If the non-custodial parent makes $2,500 a month and the custodial parent makes $1,500 a month, the total gross income is $4,000 a month. If each party has deductions of $300 a month, the adjusted gross income is $3,400. The non-custodial parent makes %63 of the adjusted gross income so that they would be responsible for %63 of the child support. The actual amount is determined by comparing the adjusted gross income to a chart the state has made.
The above calculations determine the minimum amount of child support in Rhode Island. A parent can ask for more child support. That determination is strictly up to the court. The goal is to make sure a divorce has as little impact on a child’s day to day life as possible.
Other Factors in Calculating Child Support
The court can take other factors into account while determining child support.Any property, real estate, accounts, and other assets of both the payor and payee will be taken into account in child support proceedings. The judge may also make a finding that one party is not taking proper steps to obtain a job. Purposeful underemployment can lead to a lower child support payment for the payee.
The judge can also increase the amount of a child support determination if there are high-value assets. Also, if there are standard of living expenses that exceed the gross income of one party, the judge may determine that this person is misrepresenting his or her income.
Changing a Child Support Determination
A child support order is good for three years. After this length of time, the court will revisit the case and determine if there needs to be a modification of the order. The law in Rhode Island allows either parent to request a change in a child support order. However, the party requesting the modification must show a substantial change in circumstances. To process a modification claim, you must fill out the custodial parent request for a modification form. Then, the Office of Child Support Services files a motion to modify your child support payment.
How Can an Attorney Help?
An experienced child support attorney can help guide you in the right direction. While calculating child support in Rhode Island may be simple, the court proceedings will not be. A lawyer can expedite and simplify the process. Divorces are messy enough; you don’t need the added stress of dealing with child support hearings on your own.
An attorney can help make sure you are prepared for your child support hearings. You may or may not know what deductions the courts allow. Your attorney can make sure that you only pay what your child needs.