Rhode Island child support is calculated pursuant to the Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines which is a short directive providing the manner in which child support is to be calculated. Providing a current chart to indicate the amount of child support the non-placement parent should pay at a minimum.
It is important to keep in mind that though these are guidelines and are indicative of the minimum child support obligation to be paid, the Guidelines and their numbers carry considerable weight with most Rhode Island Family Court Judges and deviation only occurs in rare circumstances of judicial discretion.
As a family lawyer there is one step I often see attorneys skip and yet it is a step that can make a significant financial difference in the child support that might be paid by the non-placement parent.
When you have additional minor dependents to be taken into account by either party when calculating child support, you may be entitled to a credit against your gross income that is attributable to that additional minor dependent.
What you need to do to calculate the proper credit for that additional minor dependent is to fill out a Guideline worksheet for that child using the incomes of both of that child’s natural parents.
I’d estimate that about 90% of all Rhode Island Attorneys skip this step and only use the income of the one natural parent that is actual in court for the calculation and then cut the deduction in half. That is not the prescribed formula for computing this deduction. It may be a shortcut for most attorneys but it’s wrong. Yet most attorneys don’t even explain to the client that they are doing something incorrectly and the affect it may have on the client financially. Better yet, this situation can be rectified when the parties know there is a child support hearing coming up and the information of the other non-party spouse isn’t likely to be present. Subpoenas for the other spouses payroll records aren’t terribly expensive, aren’t difficult, are very effective and shouldn’t add to your legal bill.
Here’s the problem. If the other natural parent of the child makes a significant income and it’s not factored in, then a substantial credit could be lost. This means that over even 15 years of the child’s life span that either the payer of child support will overpay substantially if he or she is the one entitled to the additional credit for the minor dependent, or it could mean that the payee placement parent will be substantially shorted on the amount of child support he or she is entitled to if he or she is the one entitled to the additional minor dependent deduction.
If you know that the amount you pay for support is going to be addressed at an upcoming hearing, and you know that the opposing party has a minor child (under age 18) that he or she has had with another person, then the opposing party is entitled to a mandatory deduction for that additional minor dependent. Make sure your attorney does either one of three things.
1. Subpoena the opposing party’s spouse’s payroll records.
2. Send a Request for Production of Documents to the opposing party requesting the production of recent pay stubs for the parent of that minor child.
3. Send a set of Interrogatories to the opposing party asking that the party answer questions under oath that disclose the place of employment and income of the parent of that minor child.
On average my calculations indicated that about 7 out of 10 litigants in family court received a much greater long term financial benefit by not skipping the step than the additional cost of the attorney’s fee and/or subpoena generated by following one of the three steps above.
Clients with Child Support Issues… Encourage your lawyer not to skip the step!