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Getting Divorced in Rhode Island: Child Support Modification

May 9, 2013 in Child Support, Rhode Island Divorce

Child support in Rhode Island is based on the income of the parties and is calculated through pre-set guidelines.  Modifying child support payments requires a showing by the moving party that there has been a substantial change in circumstance since the previous child support order was entered.

Child Support is Income Based

Child support is based on the combined income of both parties.  Each party is responsible for the percentage of support that is the equivalent of the percentage that the parent makes of the combined total income.  However, there are some deductions from total income, such as payment of healthcare costs.  A rough example would be the custodial parent (with whom the child/children reside) making $40,000, the non-custodial parent making $60,000, with the combined total income as $100,000.  When the guidelines are used, the custodial parent is responsible for 40% of the total child support obligation and the non-custodial parent will be responsible for 60% of the total child support obligation.  The non-custodial parent will make that payment to the custodial parent.

Substantial Change in Circumstance

To modify child support, the party requesting the modification must show a “substantial change in circumstance” since the child support order was entered.  Substantial changes would include loss of income or a significant increase in the income of the party paying the support.  It would also include a change in custody, increased daycare expenses, emancipation of the child (the child has turned 18), or significant change in the needs of the child.  The burden is on the party requesting the modification of child support to prove that one of these substantial changes has occurred.

Filing a Motion to Modify Child Support

Filing any Motion with the court requires a complex set of procedures.  With a Motion to Modify Child Support, the moving party is required not only to file the Motion, but must also include updated financial information.  In addition, the moving party must have the non-moving party served by a State constable.  For this and many other reasons, individuals are best served having a lawyer review the facts around their case and represent them in support hearings.

If you need help navigating the Rhode Island Divorce process. Please visit Rameaka Law website and contact us.

Rhode Island Divorce: Premarital Agreements between Same Sex Couples

May 9, 2013 in Rhode Island Divorce, Same Sex Marriage

With same sex marriage now a reality in Rhode Island, many long term partners are seeking to formalize their relationship through a State recognized marriage.   State recognized marriage has many benefits, but also has many legal consequences that persons entering into such a union should be aware.  Specifically, in Rhode Island, marriage creates a “marital estate.”   The marital estate is comprised of several different assets.  First, any property that one partner brings into the marriage can become a part of the marital estate. This happens if the other person in the relationship contributes to that asset’s appreciation or maintenance over time, or that property is subsequently held jointly by both spouses.  A very easy example is a pre-marital home.  In this example one partner owns a house before the marriage.  After the marriage, both partners contribute to the mortgage payment.  If the parties later divorce, the contributing partner is entitled to any share of equity in that home that occurred during the course of the marriage due to his or her contribution.  Under Rhode Island law, this is called “transmutation.” The home transmuted to marital property once the other partner began contributing to the upkeep and maintenance.   Furthermore, if the pre-owning spouse puts the other spouse on the deed to the property, it can be considered a “gift” and therefore transmuted.  Thus, something pre-marital has now become a marital asset to be divided between the parties.

Under Rhode Island law, there are many more factors to consider when contemplating a marital estate.  However, most people, on the eve of marriage, are not contemplating the end of the marital relationship.  That being said, a premarital agreement can be a very important part of marriage relationship, especially for partners who have been in a committed relationship for a long period of time but kept their assets separate, and partners who have some disparity in property or accumulated assets at the time of marriage.  While never an easy topic of discussion, a premarital agreement can be a very useful tool to clarify assets, rights, liabilities, and to provide peace of mind to both future spouses.

One advantage of entering into a premarital agreement is that each party must identify the assets he or she is bringing into the relationship and which ones he or she desires to remain separate property during and potentially after the marriage.  Additionally, this allows the future spouses to identify the assets that were purchased together and that they will consider marital assets moving forward.  Finally, clarifying assets allows future spouses to be creative in assigning rights and actions should the parties divorce.  For example, a couple might have jointly purchased a piece of art or furniture.  The parties can delineate that, upon a filing of divorce, the item is to be sold, and the proceeds spilt equally or along a percentage, or that one party to the marriage will keep this item.  Thus, not only is the asset identified, but a specific action is identified upon the dissolution of the relationship.

Another advantage to a premarital agreement is that the parties identify their respective rights and liabilities – joint and individual.  Again, the parties may have opened a joint bank account, or hold credit cards or investment accounts jointly or in their individual names.  Upon a filing of divorce, a premarital agreement will not only delineate rights to those assets, but also to debts that the parties may bring into the marriage. Thus, if one party enters into the marriage with an individual credit card in the amount of $10,000.00, the parties can agree that if the marriage should end that debt will belong to the original card holder.  Thus, not only assets, but debts can be determined and liabilities identified.

A further advantage to a premarital agreement is that the parties can outline the right of each party to alimony.  In a premarital agreement, alimony can be expressly waived, or a specific amount can be identified for one party with limits as to time frame and amount.  In Rhode Island, there are strict statutory requirements for the reward of alimony.  A premarital agreement can outline the rights of the parties to alimony in order to simplify the divorce process.

Lastly, a premarital agreement allows both parties to proceed knowing that the future, in terms of the marital estate, is somewhat secure.  Rather than a harbinger of a doomed marriage, a premarital agreement allows both parties’ peace of mind in knowing that, should the need arise to execute the agreement, each party put thought and effort into protecting his or her individual assets, the spouse’s joint assets, and his or her financial future.

Premarital agreements have several statutory requirements for enforcement.  Therefore it is important to make sure that your agreement is drafted and executed according to Rhode Island law so that it is enforceable in court should the need arise.

If you need help navigating the Rhode Island Divorce or Martial process. Please visit Rameaka Law website and contact us.

Top 5 Rhode Island Divorce Myths

May 8, 2013 in Rhode Island Divorce

  1. One in two marriages ends in divorce.

    • Not exactly. In fact, the divorce rate has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s, according to the National Marriage Project. A more accurate divorce rate for American marriages ranges from 40% to 50%.
  2. Living together before marriage lowers the chance of divorce.

    • It all comes down to the decision and the reasons for the cohabitation. If the moving in will help the relationship or make it healthier, than it can be a good thing. The problem is most people move in because of convenience not because of a healthy decision.
  3. Second marriages are more likely to last than first marriages.

    • True. If you already know how to get divorced, the more likely you see it as an option. Hopefully this won’t be the case.
  4. Divorce is incredibly expensive.

    • With headlines always touting “multimillion dollar divorce settlement” you can easily think this is true. Thankfully, that is not the norm. As long as the two parties involved amicably agree on who gets what and don’t head to court each time to make a decision, the fees are manageable
  5. The mother almost always gets custody of the children.

    • You would think so, right? In the end the judge will keep the best interest of the child in mind. If both parents are fit to raise the child, they’re typically granted shared custody.

    If you need help navigating the Rhode Island Divorce process. Please visit Rameaka Law website and contact us.