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What Do Rhode Island Courts Consider Income When Calculating Child Support?

One of the largest financial impacts that divorce has is the assignment of child support, a regular payment designed to see that a child's needs are met despite their parents no longer living together. Rhode Island law determines child support as a percentage of the supporting parent's net income. However, this raises some important questions, namely “Exactly what qualifies as income?” and “What sort of expenses can be netted out of that income?”

Rhode Island Child Support Statute

Under Rhode Island § 15-5-16.2. Child support., both parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children. If the parents are separated or divorced and the child lives primarily with one parent (custodial), then the other parent (noncustodial) can be ordered to pay child support.

The court will look at certain factors when making that determination, including:

  • The financial resources of the child
  • The financial resources of the custodial parent
  • What the standard of living for the child would have been if the parents were still together
  • The emotional and physical condition of the child and their educational needs
  • The financial resource of the noncustodial parent

What Qualifies as Income

When calculating how much child support a noncustodial parent should pay, both parents are required to submit financial information to the court. The court will first look at the gross income of each parent, however, this income can be much more than just a weekly paycheck. Other sources of income that a parent must report in their financial filings include the following:

  • Employment bonuses
  • Employment commissions
  • Income from dividends
  • Income from royalties
  • Income from trusts
  • Pensions
  • Rental property income
  • Severance pay
  • Social Security disability benefits
  • Stock sales
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Workers’ compensation insurance benefits

After determining the total of each parent’s gross income, the court will then look at their allowable deductions. These may include:

  • Court-ordered child support obligations for other children
  • Health insurance premiums on the child’s behalf
  • Work-related childcare expenses
  • Federal and income taxes
  • Social Security payments
  • Retirement contributions
  • Union dues
  • Certain medical expenses

Adjusted Gross Income

Once all allowable deductions have been subtracted from each parent’s gross income, that final figure – the adjusted gross income (AGI) is used to calculate the child support obligation, using the Schedule of Basic Support Obligation.

An example of the calculation is as follows:

The AGI of the paying parent is $3,000 per month and the AGI of the receiving parent is $1,000. The combined monthly income of both parents is $4,000. According to the schedule, the amount of child support for one child is $707. If the couple has two children, then the amount will be $1,086. The amount continues to increase based on how many minor children the couple has.

Call Our Office for Assistance

If you are involved in a child custody situation or have questions about child support modifications, contact our office today to find out what legal options you may have. To learn more, call Kirshenbaum Law Associates at 401-467-5300 for a confidential consultation.