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How Do Rhode Island Courts Calculate Child Support Payments?

When a couple with children divorces, one spouse will retain custody of the children and the other spouse will likely be required to make Rhode Island child support payments. In Rhode Island, the right to child support payments belongs to the child, rather than the receiving spouse, so parties are unable to negotiate a pre-determined amount of child support in the event of an upcoming divorce.

Instead, Rhode Island courts employ an income shares model in which the adjusted gross income of both parents is used to determine the child support amount owed by the non-custodial parent. Courts must begin by using the model, but can always order the non-custodial parent to pay additional child support.

Rhode Island Child Support Calculations

To begin, courts will consider the monthly gross income of each of the parties. Then, the court will subtract out any mandatory deductions, such as child support payments to other children, health insurance premiums, and the cost of childcare. Courts may also consider a number of discretionary deductions, such as retirement benefits, life insurance payments, income tax adjustments, significant medical expenses, and the payment of marital debts. However, it is important to note that judges will not consider these factors as a matter of course, and the decision of whether to subtract discretionary deductions is made on a case-by-case basis.

Once the deductions have been subtracted, the court has the adjusted gross income (AGI) of each party. From here, the court adds the two AGIs together, arriving at the couple’s combined monthly income. Judges then take the couple’s combined monthly income, as well as the number of children the couple has together, and use the Rhode Island Child Support Guideline Schedule to determine the recommended amount of child support.

After the court determines the recommended amount of child support, the court then assigns each party a percentage of that number, which is equal to the party’s percentage-contribution to the monthly combined income. For example, if Husband makes $1,000 and Wife makes $3,000 after deductions, the couple’s combined monthly income would be $4,000. Of this, Husband’s contributions represent 25% of the total income and Wife’s represent 75%. Thus, if Husband ends up with custody of the couple’s two children, the recommended amount of child support would be $1113/month. Because wife’s earnings represented 75% of the couples monthly combined income, Wife would be responsible for 75% of $1113, or $835.

While it may sound like Rhode Island judges employ a mechanical formula when determining child support obligations, there is a significant amount of judicial discretion in determining a party’s AGI, given the discretionary deductions.

Are You Going Through a Rhode Island Divorce?

If you are currently going through a Rhode Island divorce, or are planning on filing for divorce, contact the dedicated Rhode Island divorce attorneys at Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC. At Bilodeau Capalbo, we represent clients in cases involving all types of family law issues, including in divorce and child custody proceedings. To learn more, call 401-300-4055 to schedule a consultation today.

See Related Posts:

Common Law Marriage in Rhode Island, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2018.

Rhode Island Intestate Laws and the Importance of Drafting a Will, Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer Blog, December 28, 2018.

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