Establishment of a Child Support Order

Children sitting together with an apple

The Office of Child Support Services will file a motion to establish a support order for a family receiving RI Works Benefits or a custodial parent who completes an application for services. The non-custodial parent will be served by a constable or sheriff at their place of residence or at any other location. Failure to appear at RI Family Court may result in a body attachment being served.

Both the custodial and non-custodial parent will be called as witnesses at a court hearing. Either party may retain legal counsel to legally represent them. Legal counsel for the Office of Child Support Services represents the state.

RI Child Support Guideline Schedule (2018)

Calculate Child Support

The State of Rhode Island has adopted the income shares model to determine the weekly child support order. It is based upon the philosophy that children are entitled to the standard of living based upon both parents monthly income. In order to calculate a monthly child support order, the Court will look at the following:

1. Weekly gross income of both parents before taxes and before any other deductions. Living expenses are generally not deducted from gross income. Gross income includes income from all sources including workers compensation, temporary disability benefits and social security disability benefits. Benefits received from the Family Independence Program are not considered income.

Any benefit received from Social Security is not considered income.

2. Mandatory deductions include:

  • Health insurance premiums
  • Pre existing child support payments
  • Support of additional children
  • Cost of child care

Please note that the Court may consider the following discretionary deductions: retirement benefits, life insurance payments, extraordinary medical expenses, income tax adjustments, and payment of original marital debts. The deductions are then subtracted from the gross income of the parent.

3. Add both parent's adjusted gross income together, refer to the guideline chart to determine the amount of monthly child support recommended for the number of children that the parties have in common. That amount is placed on the guideline worksheet.

If there are child care expenses for the child, they are included in the calculation.

4. Determine each parent' s percentage share of the total monthly child support order.

5. The non-custodial parent is then responsible to pay the % of that monthly amount. The monthly order is broken down into a weekly order by dividing again by 4.3333 .

6. Finally the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay that weekly amount by wage withholding. The weekly order will automatically be deducted from the parent's check.