In Rhode Island all child support matters are calculated under the shared income model. This simply means that the total gross income of both parents from all sources both earned and unearned are used to determine the total amount of resources available to both parents for the support of the minor children. The above model is designed to afford the same standard of living for the children, as they would have received if both parents were residing together in the family household. The only specific exception to the above gross income inclusion is “benefits received from means tested public assistance programs."
The Family Court Administrative Order’s do allow for three (3) mandatory deductions from gross income, listed below. These deductions are afforded to both parents if they qualify.
- Health insurance premiums, (but usually only the proportionate share cost you pay, for the child or children).
- Pre-existing child support payments, (additional 3rd party payments)
- Support of additional children, (for additional biological or adopted children that are living with you, there is a separate formula for this calculation).
There are also discretionary deductions that the court may consider which can also be found in the Family Court Administrative Order’s as Amended.
Once the above calculations have been completed the parties adjusted gross income is combined to determine both what the percentage share of income is for each parent, and what the basic minimum child support figure should be for the number of children involved in accordance with the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines. The next step would be to determine if there were any, “WORK RELATED” daycare cost, if so they would be added to the minimum guideline figure. The noncustodial parent is now obligated to pay their percentage share of the total support figure to the custodial parent.
It is important to remember that the above child support calculations are intended to produce the minimum child support figure under the guidelines, and that the court has discretion to exceed the guidelines if the facts warrant. There are also a large number of child support calculators on the Internet but most every one of them come with a legal disclaimer, which in short states, “Use At Your Own Risk”. Be careful when using these devices they are at best only an estimate, and cannot accurately calculate for all custody situations such as split custody, or shared placement. Lastly remember that child support is always modifiable based upon a substantial change in circumstances, and that either parent can request court ordered modification.
For a more detailed explanation of all the relevant issues regarding child support matters contact the Law Offices of John A. Russo.