Probate Practice and Procedure

Claims Against Decedents' Estates

SECTION 33-11-51

§ 33-11-51. Survival of child support obligations – Enforcement of claims – Child support public policy.

(a) It is the public policy of the state of Rhode Island that dependent children shall be maintained and supported, as completely as possible, from the resources of their parents thereby relieving or avoiding, to the fullest extent, the burden borne by the citizens of the state.

(b) In furtherance of said policy and not withstanding any conflicting statute or prior case law, it is declared that a parent's legally enforceable obligation to pay child support, past and future:

(1) Continues until the child's eighteenth (18th) birthday or such later date or event set forth in the family court's decree of child support;

(2) Is not extinguished by but survives the parent's death;

(3) Is enforceable as a priority creditor's claim from the deceased parent's probate estate;

(4) Is enforceable by imposition of a constructive trust over the deceased parent's non- probate assets by equity petition in the superior court to the extent of any deficiency from the deceased parent's probate estate;

(5) Takes precedence over and must be satisfied prior to any distribution of the deceased parent's probate assets by intestacy or by will; and

(6) Cannot be nullified by disinheriting the child, however, a parent may exercise testamentary discretion and disinherit a child subject to the prior satisfaction of all his or her child support obligations, accrued and future.

(c) The family court may modify child support obligations only for a substantial change in circumstances while the child is a minor and the parent with the obligation to support the child is alive. After said parent's death, the probate or superior court, as the case may be, shall hear and determine the child's claim and may award:

(1) Delinquent and/or accrued child support to the date of the parent's death, with interest therein at the statutory rate; and

(2) Future or prospective child support until the child's eighteenth (18th) birthday or such later date or event set forth in the family court's decree of child support, offset by social security benefits payable to or for the child by reason of the parent's death, and discounted to present value.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2008, ch. 298, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 314, § 1.)