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Rhode Island Child Support
Child Support in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, either parent may be ordered to provide child support in any proceeding for divorce, divorce from bed and board (legal separation) or any miscellaneous petition without filing for divorce or child support. Generally, the court awards child support based on the court guidelines. However, if the court considers the guidelines unfair in a particular application, it bases its decision on a number of different factors.

The courts use the Rhode Island Support Guidelines to determine the correct amount of child support. These are in the General Laws of Rhode Island; Title 15, Chapters 15-5-16.1, 15-5-16.2, 15-5-16.6, 15-5-22, and 15-9-1 and Rhode Island Rules of Procedure for Domestic Relations; Appendix of Forms contain the laws about child support in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island child support is typically calculated by using a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet generates an appropriate Rhode Island child support obligation according to each spouse's income and other relative numeric factors such as taxes paid and retirement contributions.

Once this amount is determined it is essential to take a look at any appropriate Rhode Island child support deviation factors that may be applicable to the situation. Additional information about Rhode Island child support can be found in the Rhode Island state statutes.

Rhode Island uses the Income Shares Model to determine the amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay. The Income Shares Model estimates the amount of support that would have been available if the marriage had not failed. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally to the parents according to each parent's income. This is easy to do using the Rhode Island child support worksheet. Pay records typically substantiate the estimated incomes.

This routine takes into account both parents' gross income and applies a percentage to it based on the number of minor children they have together. The court takes the combined income of both parents and works out the proportion each contributes. That figure is then divided proportionately based on each parent's ability to pay and which parent has primary custody.

If the noncustodial parent has a higher income than the custodial parent, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation; conversely, if the noncustodial parent has a lower income than the custodial, the noncustodial parent would then be responsible for the smaller portion of the child support obligation.

Calculate Rhode Island Child Support

Other Expenses and Deductions

Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive. Rhode Island considers childcare expenses to be an add-on and a mandatory deduction. Extraordinary medical expenses are a deviation factor.

According to Rhode Island law, "[a]ny order for child support issued by the family court shall contain a provision requiring either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child to obtain health insurance coverage for the child when coverage is available to the parent or parents through their employment without cost or at a reasonable cost. Reasonable cost' shall be defined in accordance with guidelines adopted by administrative order of the family court in conjunction with the child support guidelines."

Child Support Enforcement

Rhode Island uses income withholding of child support directly from the earnings of the payer parent. The payments are withheld like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

Both parties - the payer and the receiver - normally find this routine very easy. The state agency receives and disburses payments after support is withheld and payment verified.

By statute, all child support orders issued, enforced, or modified after January 1, 1994 are subject to immediate wage withholding unless the court finds there is good cause to not impose wage withholding or a written agreement by both parties involved which provides for an alternative arrangement for the timely payment of support due under the support order

Parents paying support must file a motion to modify or suspend a child support order because modifications or suspensions cannot be ordered retroactively. Until the Rhode Island Family Court acts, a child support order remains in effect.

The Office of Child Support Services automatically enforces delinquent child support orders when a payor falls behind. Parents need not contact the Office of Child Support because the delinquent order is generated by computer and happens automatically.

The Office of Child Support uses these means to enforce support:

  • Administrative Offset Program;
  • the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program;
  • passport denial;
  • bank match;
  • insurance proceeds intercept;
  • credit bureau reporting;
  • lottery intercept;
  • motion to adjudge in contempt;
  • driver's license suspension;
  • Child Support Recovery Act;
  • administrative liens;
  • state criminal prosecution;
  • restraining orders;
  • bonds.

More information about Rhode Island Child Support Enforcement can be found at their website.


Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age. The court has the discretion to order child support and educational expenses for children attending high school when the child is 18 or for 90 days after graduation.

Child support will not be awarded for a child 19 years or older. If the child suffers from disabilities that require care and expense, the court may award support until he or she reaches 21 years of age.

Deviation Factors

When the court considers the guidelines unfair in a particular application, it may deviate from them based on a consideration of:

  • the financial resources of the child;
  • the financial resources of the custodial parent;
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had continued;
  • the physical, emotional and educational needs of the child;
  • and the financial resources of the noncustodial parent.

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