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What is a default child support judgment in Rhode Island?

It is important when establishing child support in Rhode Island to attend all hearings and respond to all motions. If a person misses a child support hearing or does not answer a motion for child support, they may have a default judgment entered against them. A default judgment is an order issued by the court that approves the other parent's motion for child support. In these situations, the paying parent must begin making child support payments.

What does having a default judgment entered against a parent in Rhode Island mean? It means that the parent requesting the child support will win that request, because the nonpaying parent did not reply to the requesting parent's motion for child support or attend a hearing. A default order is a valid and enforceable court order that must be complied with. A failure to comply with a default judgment for child support will be considered a failure to pay child support, with the subsequent negative penalties that come with it.  Interest will be charged on top of the unpaid child support, and repeated failures can lead to incarceration.

Sometimes a parent with a default child support judgment against them does not agree with the judgment. If this is the case, they must submit to the court a written motion to vacate the default child support judgment. In this motion, the moving party must give the reason why they think the motion should be vacated.

Some common reasons for vacating a default judgment are misrepresentation and fraud or a legitimate reason for the failure to appear in court such as a sudden hospitalization. In these cases, the court may hold the default judgment until the parties are able to hold a hearing to determine if one of these two situations exists. It is important to file such a motion as soon as possible.

As you can see, having a default child support judgment entered against you is a grave situation that requires immediate attention so you can meet your financial obligations. For advice about child support laws, which this post is not meant to provide, seeing a family law attorney may be in your best interests. This could help you better assess your personal situation so you can take appropriate action that serves your best interests and protects your rights.

Source: Department of Human Services Office Of Child Support Services, "Important Information About: Default Judgments," accessed March 23, 2015

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