Child Support



A child support order may be modified only if there is a substantial change of circumstances. A substantial change of circumstances shall not have occurred if it results in a new child support order that is less than 10 percent higher or lower than the prior order of support. The moving party has the burden of proof.

An example of a substantial change in circumstances that could result in an increase in child support is when the custodial parent faces an increase in educational or day-care expenses while the noncustodial parent receives an increase in wages.

A common example of substantial change in circumstances that would result in a decrease, or, perhaps a temporary suspension in child support, is when the noncustodial parent has been terminated from employment or has received a decrease in earnings.

“Recommendation of Support Orders,” provides that if a child support order is entered pursuant to a divorce decree and the custodial parent becomes a recipient of FIP subsequent thereto, the OCSS is entitled to a hearing de novo on the issue of support. This is because the agency was not a party to the initial action.

“Retroactive Modification of Child Support,” allows the court discretion to modify or suspend a child support order retroactive but only to the date that the adverse party received notice of said petition.

Pursuant to federal and state law, R.I.G.L.  §  15-5-16.7, the OCSS may review child support orders in all cases where support rights have been assigned to the state, or at the request of either party every three years from the date of last review. Accordingly, the agency may file a motion for review and adjustment and request that the court apply the guidelines and order a guideline order, regardless of whether the application results in an upward or downward modification.