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 confidential personal consultation with me.