The Rhode Island Family Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine all
motions for support of children. The court also has the jurisdiction to
enforce and modify any order or decree granting
child support. In some cases, the Rhode Island Family Court has jurisdiction to modify
an order or decree granting child support from another state.
The most important thing an obligor parent should know is that a Rhode
Island child support order does not terminate automatically. Therefore,
a party seeking a reduction in child support or to terminate his or her
support obligation must present evidence showing a change in circumstances
- either an abatement of the needs of the children or an impairment of
the financial ability to provide for those needs. The obligor parent cannot
simply stop paying child support or reduce their child support payment
independently. He or she must file a motion with the court requesting
a modification or termination of their child support obligation. The family
court clerk will schedule a hearing for a Judge to consider this request.
Generally speaking, an order of child support may be terminated at the
time of a child's eighteenth (18
th) birthday unless the child is still attending high school. If the child
is still attending high school at the time of his or her eighteenth (18
th) birthday, the court will continue said order until such time as the child
graduates from high school or attains the age of nineteen (19) years,
whichever occurs first.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the court, in its discretion, may order
child support to continue, in the case of a child with a severe physical
or mental impairment still living with or under the care of a parent,
beyond the child's emancipation as defined above. The court shall
consider the following factors when making its determination: (1) the
nature and extent of the disability; (2) the cost of the extraordinary
medical expenses; (3) the ability of the child to earn income; (4) the
financial resources of the child; (5) the financial resources of the parents;
(6) the inability of the primary caregiver of the child to sustain gainful
employment on a full-time basis due to the care necessitated by the child.
The onset of the disability must have occurred prior to the emancipation
event. The court may periodically review the case to determine if circumstances
warrant the continuation of child support.
If you are currently paying child support for a child that is about to
attain the age of eighteen (18) years, I encourage you to call my office
for a free confidential personal consultation with me.