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Parents owed child support face challenge to collect

Parents in Rhode Island who are owed child support will be interested to learn that nearly 17,000 custodial parents in this state are owed back support totaling an estimated $292 million.

State government may try to enforce child support payments through wage deduction, intercepting tax refunds or by placing liens on property such as real estate or automobiles. Furthermore, a person owing child support may be at risk of losing their driver's license or may face fines or jail time.

But still, there may be an uphill battle for custodial parents seeking child support from former spouses or partners. There are some non-custodial parents who refuse to pay and some who make only a few payments that are not enough. In addition, there are many cases in which the child support office has unfortunately not been able to locate the parent who owes the support.

However, parents who fail to pay child support for over a year for a child in another state should know that may be charged with a federal crime under the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992. Punishment under federal law can include heavy fines and imprisonment.

For those with delinquent payments, there is some hope. A parent who is unable to pay their child support may try to get a reduction if there is a good reason for it. A court may find a significant change in income of one of the parents or in the financial need of the child to be a sufficient reason to adjust the child support amount. However, the amount may not be reduced without a court order. Also, the payments that are not paid are collecting interest at a rate of 12 percent per year, the rate set by the state of Rhode Island.

Therefore, if you are struggling, it is important to talk to a legal specialist about your available options.

Source: The Providence Journal, "Thousands of custodial parents in R.I. owed millions in back child support," Tracy Breton, May 27, 2012

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