1) What if my child’s parent works overtime? Will overtime be included in child support?
There is no standard law or rule in Rhode Island regarding whether or not the non-possessory parent’s overtime will be used to calculate child support. One Judge in Rhode Island consistently rules that overtime compensation cannot be used to calculate child support.
Other Judges in Rhode Island have different opinions regarding overtime. The Family Court is a court of equity and fairness. Judges in Rhode Island will typically look at whether or not a person consistently works overtime over a substantial period of time. Judges may also look at whether or not overtime is consistently offered to a spouse. If overtime is infrequent or not typically offered Judges may be hesitant to calculate overtime as a factor of child support. In that case, many attorneys argue that a person’s income should be calculated using their W2 or gross income for the entire calendar year. By calculating gross income over an entire calendar year even infrequent overtime becomes an element of child support.
Judges may also look at other factors such as the needs and expenses of both parties and any extraordinary expenses for the child. At least one Judge has suggested that the possessory parent get a percentage of the overtime that is worked by the non-possessory parent. Other Judges in Rhode Island believe that overtime should always be a factor in child support. Often the issue of overtime is negotiated by the lawyers prior to any formal ruling by the Judge.
2) My child is about to turn 18 but is still in high school and living at home, can I still get child support?
Under Rhode Island Law, child support should end when a child turns 18 and graduates high school. If the child is still in high school, then child support will continue until the child turns 19.
Child support in Rhode Island automatically continues even after the child turns 18 unless a Motion to terminate child support is filed. If you are a non-possessory parent, your best option is to contact a lawyer to file a Motion to Terminate Child Support approximately 40 days prior to your child turning 18 and graduating high school. This will mean that the motion will be heard on a court date soon after the child turns 18. Please note that the non-possessory parent can still be found in contempt for failure to pay child support even after the child turns 18 if there is no motion granted to terminate the child support. If a child is seriously disabled, child support shall continue until the child turns 21 years old.
3) Can I get my child’s father to be ordered to pay for my child’s college education?
In Rhode Island the Court has no jurisdiction to order a parent to pay for the college education of his/her child. However, if pursuant to a Property Settlement Agreement or other contract, one party agrees to pay for a child’s education, then that agreement may be enforced by a court of law. Therefore, if you seek to have your child’s parent pay for your child’s college education, then you must negotiate payment of college expenses as part of a global settlement of the divorce or custody agreement or other similar agreement.
4) Who is going to pay for my child’s daycare?
The Rhode Island minimum child support guidelines take into account both the importance and expense of daycare. The child support guidelines and worksheet are used to determine the proper amount of child support to be paid by the non-possessory parent. The bottom line is that a party will be ordered to pay approximately the same percentage of the daycare that the party makes in relation to that party’s percentage of the combined gross income of both parties.
For example: If the husband makes $100,000.00 and the wife makes $50,000.00 the combined gross income for the parties is $150,000.00. Therefore, the husband makes 66 percent of the income and will be ordered to pay 66 percent of the daycare in addition to child support. (There may be an adjustment to take into account the federal tax credit.) This amount is added onto the minimum Child Support Guidelines amount.
5) How do I modify, increase or terminate child support in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island child support can only be modified if there is a substantial change of circumstances. In order to get a substantial change of circumstances, the child support amount must be 10 percent more or less than the old child support order. The change in circumstances could result from loss of a job, increase of income of either party, new dependents, loss of overtime, unemployment, a disability, etc.