If your spouse and you get divorced, and you have children together, child support is likely to present a concern. When parents are able to stay amicable and discuss child support in a reasonable way, it can help the children. However, in many cases, parents are not able to agree on the amount of child support, and in that case, each should retain representation by an attorney. At Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, our Rhode Island child support lawyers may be able to help you in connection with these matters, along with related matters such as custody and paternity. We represent people in many areas of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.Understanding the Child Support Guidelines
Usually, judges abide by the Rhode Island Family Court Child Support Formula and Guidelines, and the minimum amount required by the guidelines is set. However, it is possible for a parent to request more than the minimum amount. When considering whether to award more, the court can look at the parties' assets to decide how much child support to award. It can also examine extraordinary expenses and each parent’s own needs and expenses.
A judge may consider many different circumstances. When someone is underemployed or just chooses to not work when they are able to do so, the court may determine what that person's earning capacity is and set child support based on that sum.
To determine the amount of support under the guidelines, the court looks at both parents' adjusted gross income to figure out how much child support should be awarded. The adjusted gross income is the gross income of a parent with specific required deductions, such as deductions for medical and dental insurance coverage. The guidelines set forth what the state thinks two parents with that adjusted gross income would pay for support if they still lived together. Generally, daycare expenses are tacked on. A child support attorney can advise Rhode Island residents on how the guidelines would likely apply to them.
A parent who does not have custody will likely be obligated to pay child support to the other parent in at least the minimum amount. However, a judge has discretion to go over the minimum amount if there is a justification. A justification to go over the minimum required by the guidelines can include a parent's substantial assets, a high standard of living, expenses that go far over the reported gross income, or the extraordinary necessary expenses and needs of a particular child.
Extraordinary expenses and needs often arise in connection with a child who has a learning disability or special medical needs. Generally, private school is not considered a need, and most judges assume that there are appropriate public schools available. When there is something in writing between the parents that requires one of them to pay for private school, the court may order it. Similarly, if the child is already in private school, and the divorce is taking place during the school year, a parent might need to pay for private school education temporarily. Unless there is a written contract requiring one parent to pay for college, there will be no obligation, even for a much wealthier parent, to pay for a child's college education.
Our Rhode Island child support attorneys also have seen situations in which child support is less than the minimum set forth in the guidelines. For example, if the non-custodial parent has substantially more visitation than the norm, it might be justifiable for the court to order less than what is mandated by the guidelines.
Generally, a Rhode Island child support obligation concludes when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. There is an exception for a child with a severe disability. However, child support does not terminate automatically. A motion to terminate must be made.
Child support can be modified through a motion to modify after a divorce, but only if there is a substantial change in circumstances. Substantial changes in circumstances can include unemployment, disability, a significant income decrease or increase, an increase in medical insurance costs, the costs of daycare, the loss of overtime income, or a substantial bonus.Hire a Knowledgeable Child Support Lawyer in Rhode Island
If you are facing a family law matter related to custody, support, or paternity, it is important to consult an experienced attorney. At Bilodeau Capalbo, LLC, we build close and trusting relationships with our clients, and we believe strongly in assuring client satisfaction. Our firm represents clients in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. We have offices in West Warwick, Westerly, and Hartford. Call us at (401) 300-4055 or complete our online form to set up an appointment.