TITLE 15
Domestic Relations

CHAPTER 15-9
Support of Children [See Title 16 Chapter 97 – The Rhode Island Board of Education Act]

SECTION 15-9-1


§ 15-9-1 Duty of parent to pay support and maintenance to the agency or person having custody of the child.

(a) Whenever the department of children, youth and families shall pay for the support and maintenance of any child pursuant to §§ 42-72-13 and 42-72-14, or whenever another department, agency, society, institution, or person having the charge, care, or custody of a child shall pay for the support and maintenance of the child, the court shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child to pay an amount based upon a formula and guidelines adopted by an administrative order of the family court. If, after calculating support based upon court established formula and guidelines, the court, in its discretion, finds the proposed order would be inequitable to the child or either parent, the court shall make findings of fact and shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to pay an amount reasonable or necessary for the child's support after considering all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

(1) The financial resources of the child;

(2) The financial resources of the custodial parent;

(3) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;

(4) The physical and emotional condition of the child and his or her educational needs; and

(5) The financial resources and needs of the non-custodial parent.

(b) If it deems necessary or advisable, the court may order child support and education costs for children attending high school at the time of their eighteenth (18th) birthday and for ninety (90) days after graduation, but in no case beyond their nineteenth (19th) birthday. In addition, the court may order the support of a child with a severe physical or mental impairment to continue until the twenty-first (21st) birthday of the child.

(c) After a decree for support has been entered and upon the petition of either party, the court may review and alter its decree relative to the amount and payment of support. If the court finds that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, the decree may be made retroactive to the date that notice of a petition to modify was given to the adverse party. In such a case the court shall set forth in its decision the specific findings of fact which show a substantial change in circumstances and why the decree should be made retroactive.

(d) Any order for child support issued by the family court shall contain a provision requiring either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child to obtain health insurance coverage for the child when such coverage is available to the parent or parents through their employment without cost or at a reasonable cost. "Reasonable cost" shall be defined in accordance with guidelines adopted by administrative order of the family court in conjunction with the child support guidelines.

(e) Any existing child support orders may be modified in accordance with this section unless the court makes specific written findings of fact that take into consideration the best interests of the child and conclude that a child support order or medical order would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case.

(f) In addition, the national medical support notice shall be issued with respect to all orders issued, enforced, or modified on or after October 1, 2002, in accordance with chapter 29 of this title. The notice shall inform the employer of provisions in the child support order for health care coverage for the child and of the method to implement this coverage. In lieu of the court ordering the non-custodial parent to obtain or maintain health care coverage for the child, the court may order the non-custodial parent to contribute a weekly cash amount towards the medical premium for health care coverage paid by the state of Rhode Island and/or the custodial parent. The method to determine a reasonable weekly amount shall be addressed in a family court administrative order pertaining to the child support guidelines.

(g) All support orders established or modified in the state on or after October 1, 1998, shall be recorded with the Rhode Island family court/department of administration, division of taxation child support computer enforcement system. The system maintains the official registry of support orders entered in accordance with applicable administrative orders issued by the Rhode Island family court.

(h) In any subsequent child support enforcement action between the parties, upon sufficient showing that a diligent effort has been made to ascertain the location of such a party, the court may allow for notice and service of process to be made by first class mail or by service of written notice to the most recent residential or employer address of record, as specified in the Rhode Island rules of procedure for domestic relations for the Family Court of Rhode Island.

(i) The department of children, youth, and families shall not seek child support for services to the child which are special education services as defined under state and federal law and pursuant to the regulations of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education governing the special education of students with disabilities, section two, I., 1.0-4.11 and 34 C.F.R. Part 300.

History of Section.
(P.L. 1981, ch. 143, § 2; P.L. 1990, ch. 65, art. 38, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 595, art. 14, § 1.)