In Rhode Island, many people believe that child support automatically ends when the child attains the age of eighteen (18). This is not accurate.
Support paid to a custodial parent ends at the latter of the child reaching 18 and having graduated high school. So if a child turns 18 while in high school, support continues until graduation. Further, there is a provision in the law that child support can continue for 3 months after graduation. Unless a child is severely disabled (in which case there may be no ending date for support), support ends even if the child is in high school when the child reaches 19 years of age.
Another consideration is if the minor child becomes emancipated. A minor child who gives birth to a child and resides with the baby's co-parent may be considered emancipated. A minor child who leaves school, moves out of the custodial parent's home and works to support himself/herself may be considered emancipated.
Steven Hirsch recently represented a father in a child support arrearage case. Interestingly, the mother resided for several years in Florida with a daughter of this couple and three children she subsequently had with another man. While the daughter was 17 years and 11 months old, the mother left Florida and returned to Rhode Island with her three other children. She put the three other children into school in Rhode Island and she remained here for approximately 100 days. The daughter remained in Florida the entire time, turning 18 and living in a house owned by the mother's parents and in which a man and his two children resided. We argued that the child was emancipated,outside of the care and control of the mother and impressed the Magistrate to that fact. The mother could have brought the daughter to school in Rhode Island for the three months, but allowed her to live "without parental supervision".
Child Support is paid to a parent who has custody and control of a minor child. Having been awarded custody is not sufficient. We argued that a parent is not entitled to support when the minor was emancipated and not in the care, control and supervision of the parent. Each case is different and the particular facts in each case will differ.
If you have an issue concerning the amount of child support you paid or received, arrearages or other issues such as ending your obligation to pay support (and terminating a garnishment), call Steven Hirsch for legal representation.