RI Child Support | Private School & College Education Liability

Rhode Island child support lawyer, David Slepkow answers several frequently asked questions pertaining to liability for college and private school pursuant to RI child support law.

Can I get the other parent to be ordered to contribute to my child’s private school education?


support | Private school liability

No. Rhode Island Family Court Magistrates and Judges take the position that there are suitable free public schools for a child to attend.

However, the Rhode Island Family Court can enforce a property settlement agreement in which one or both parents are contractually obligated to pay for a child’s private school education.

A property settlement agreement (otherwise known as a marital settlement agreement) which is approved by the Court and incorporated but not merged into the final judgment of divorce is a binding contract. The RI Family Court has no ability or jurisdiction to modify that agreement. If you need legal help concerning RI child support, contact a RI child support attorney.

Child Support: Private school and college liability?

If a child is already in private school while the divorce is pending, the Court probably could, in limited circumstances, make temporary orders to maintain the status quo if the court determined that it would be detrimental to the child to be transferred out of the private school in the middle of the school year. This would usually only occur in a situation in which the non-custodial parent was wealthy. The Justice of the Providence Family Court would probably not designate this payment as “child support.”  The RI Family Court would likely determine such payment to be contribution to the marital debts and obligations to maintain the status quo.

Contractual provisions to pay high school and college

Parents can certainly negotiate payment of private school education in divorce negotiations. The judge of the Family Court will usually approve the settlement and

incorporate but not merge the property settlement into the final judgment of divorce. Judges of the Providence and Kent County Family Court will approve a property settlement agreement in which the parties agree to pay private school education. The Judge will incorporate but not merge the property settlement agreement into the final judgment of divorce.

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Does the Rhode Island family Court have jurisdiction to order a parent to pay for their adult child’s college education?


However, a Providence Family Court Justice can enforce a contractual obligation in a property settlement agreement to contribute or pay for a college education. Child support  in RI terminates when a child turns 18 and graduates high school but in no event after the child attains the age of 19. (If a child is severely disabled and a motion is filed, then it can continue indefinitely).

Does child support continue through college?

The Rhode Island Family Court loses jurisdiction to order any support for a child when the child graduates from high school or turns 19 whichever comes first. The court cannot order payment of college, but a court may enforce a Written Property Settlement Agreement between the parties obligating payment of college.

Child Support statistics | ri child support calculator

“• About half (48.7 percent) of all custodial parents had either legal or informal child support agreements, and custodial mothers were more likely to have agreements (52.3 percent) than custodial fathers (31.4 percent). • About three-quarters (74.1 percent) of custodial parents who were due child support in 2013 received either full or partial payments and less than half (45.6 percent) received full payments. • The aggregate amount of child support due in 2013 was $32.9 billion, a decrease of $14.0 billion from a decade earlier, when adjusted to 2013 dollars. • About 68.5 percent of the $32.9 billion in child support due in 2013 was reported as received, averaging $3,950 per year per custodial parent who was due support.” 14 U.S. Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2013 By Timothy Grall Current Population Reports Issued January 2016 P60-255

If you need legal assistance contact Rhode Island divorce lawyer David Slepkow at 401-437-1100. David Slepkow is also a Rhode Island child support lawyer and an East Providence child custody attorney.