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Child support is more than just money. It is the responsibility of each parent both mother and father, to make sure their child has enough food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe place to live. Still, some children do not get the support they need. Regardless of their living situation or relationship, both parents should provide the financial and emotional support a child needs to grow into a responsible adult. Rhode Island's child support program can help.
Paternity means establishing fatherhood.
Establishing paternity means that an individual has been legally determined to be the father of a child. Over 50% of children born in Rhode Island are born without the father's name on the birth certificate. The Office of Child Support Services can assist in establishing paternity. The father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity of the child immediately after the birth of the child in the birthing hospital. Hospital records staff have been trained to explain the voluntary process and answer any questions parents may have. A videotape entitled "The power of two" is shown to the parents informing them of their rights and responsibilities. Parents are also provided pamphlets and a statement to read.
They may sign "An Affidavit of Paternity" adding the father's name to the child's birth certificate provided it is done voluntarily and without coercion. They may also choose the child's last name, provided the mother is not married to someone else. The father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity at the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services. The same process that is followed in the hospital is followed at the office. The parents view the videotape, read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and sign the Affidavit of Paternity.
The father's name may be added to the child's birth certificate but the child's last name cannot be changed unless the parties appear before the Rhode Island Family Court. If the alleged father does not wish to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, the Office of Child Support Services can file a Complaint for Paternity naming him as the father. The mother signs a verified complaint and an affidavit stating facts that support that he is the father. He has three options when he is served with the paternity complaint:
What about DNA?
When the non custodial parent is served with the paternity complaint, two forms will be provided one is called an "Answer" an the other is an "Affidavit". If the alleged father is not sure he is the father, he should request dna testing. When the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services receives the answer, a DNA appointment will be scheduled. The father will not appear at the same time as the mother and child. For your convenience, the appointment will be scheduled at the Office of Child Support Services on 77 Dorrance Street, Providence, RI. The State will pay the cost of the test initially. If the father is found to be the father by the court, he will be ordered to reimburse the State for the fee. The cost is $200.00.
Medical Support Service
When a custodial parent completes a Rite care application, and is eligible for Rite care, the case is automatically referred to the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services. It is imperative that all information about the non custodial parent be provided on the application. If the correct, complete information is not provided, the custodial parent will be required to attend an appointment at the Office of Child Support Services to provide all information and to provide the birth certificate for the child. Paternity must be established for the child before a medical order can be obtained.
If the custodial parent was married when the child was born, or within 300 days of the termination of the marriage, the husband, by law, is presumed to be the father of the child. The Rhode Island Child Support representative requires complete information about the husband. If the parties were divorced, a divorce decree stating that the husband is not the father of the child, must be provided or the agency will still pursue the husband. If the custodial parent was not married at the time of the child's birth, all information about the biological father must be provided including:
If the custodial parent is not receiving FIP benefits, she can choose to pursue child support services along with medical services. However, medical services must be provided if the child is receiving Rite care benefits and the custodial parent must cooperate with the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services to locate the non custodial parent, establish paternity and establish a medical order.
Per Federal and State law, the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services is obligated to secure medical coverage or a cash medical order in every child support case. If the child is receiving Rite Care or Rite share benefits from the State of RI or other type of medical assistance, the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services must pursue the non custodial parent for private medical coverage for the child if it is provided to the non custodial parent as part of his employment at no cost or at reasonable cost.
When will the Court order that private medical coverage be provided?
The Court will order that private medical coverage be provided if the non custodial parent has medical coverage available through his employer at no cost or at a reasonable cost. Reasonable cost means that the coverage for the minor child is less than, or equal, to 5% of his gross income per month. Once medical coverage is ordered, the employer will be notified through the use of the National Medical Notice to enroll the child in the plan. The custodial parent then must present the private coverage insurance information to the physician. The child might be entitled to some wrap around services in addition to the private coverage.
If the Court finds that the coverage would cost the non custodial parent more than 5% of his gross income per month, the Court may order the non custodial parent to pay 5%, in addition to the child support monthly order. This would be taken directly from the employee's income and mailed to the RI Family Court This serves to contribute to the cost of Rite care coverage that the State of RI pays. A custodial parent providing private medical coverage through her employer would receive the weekly cash contribution towards medical if the Court so ordered.
What if the custodial parent does not want the non custodial parent's private coverage?
If the child is on Rite care or Rite share the custodial parent assigns her rights to the state. That means it is the state's decision to go forward. The custodial parent cannot make that decision and must cooperate with the Office of Child Support Services. Requesting the modification, a parent must show a substantial change in circumstances. Some examples of a substantial change in circumstances include:
The Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services can assist either party in filing a motion to modify. The Rhode Island Family Court will apply the guideline chart in effect to determine the new child support order.
Establishing a Child Support Order
The Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services will file a motion to establish a support order for a family receiving FIP 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 Rhode Island Child Support Services represents the state.
Review and Adjustment
Either party or the State may file a motion for review and adjustment based upon the expiration of three years since the last child support order. Under the law the parties need not prove a substantial change in circumstances. Upon the expiration of three years the court will apply the guidelines and determine the new order. The Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services can assist either party in filing a motion for review and adjustment. The Office of Child Support Services can file a motion for review and adjustment in a FIP case at the state's request. The order may go up or down upon application to the court.
For a fee of $20.00 a custodial parent may become a full-service customer. That means that the child support order entered by the Rhode Island Family Court or another State Court or tribunal, will be entered on the Child Support computer system. Once entered all child support payments must be payable to the Rhode Island Family Court through wage withholding. The Rhode Island Child Support payment is taken from the employee's wages by the employer and remitted to the Rhode Island Family Court. All payments and all disbursements are also posted for a full record of your case.
The child support payment will be mailed to the custodial parent; or if you choose direct deposit, the payment will be electronically deposited in your designated checking or savings account. When the child support payments are past due, the following enforcement tools will be instituted for a full-service customer when certain conditions are met:
You will be required to keep us informed of your residential and business' address at all times as well as any direct payments received by the non-custodial parent. Receipt of direct payments from the non-custodial parent without going through the court is not permitted and violates the court order. However, if you do receive a direct payment you must contact this office immediately or complete an affidavit of direct payments and mail it to the Rhode Island Child Support office, otherwise the non-custodial parent's account will be incorrect and enforcement will take place inappropriately.
What is a Bookkeeping Only Case?
If the Rhode Island Family Court has issued a child support order for the benefit of your children, and you do not wish to be a full service customer of the Office of Child Support Services, your payments will still be by wage withholding, withheld by the employer and payable to the Rhode Island Family Court. The payments will still be posted on the Office of Rhode Island Child Support Services system called "InRhodes" and disbursed by the Office of Child Support Services. You may still choose direct deposit if you are a bookkeeping only case. However, no enforcement actions will take place nor can you contact the Office of Child Support Services for assistance in collecting the child support. You must become a full-service customer to do so.
Calculate Child Support
The Rhode Island Child Support 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:
Mandatory deductions include:
Please note that the Court may consider the following discretionary deductions:
The deductions are then subtracted from the gross income of the parent. 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 day care expenses for which the custodial parent has proof, the Court may add that amount to the monthly recommended child support amount. They Determine each parent' s percentage share of the total monthly child support order.
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 . 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.
Rhode Island Child Support Customer Service
8:30am. - 4:00 P.M. (Monday - Friday)
77 Dorrance St, Providence RI 02903