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Modifying child support payments with the help of OCSS


Many parents who are paying child support in Rhode Island live up to their financial obligations. However, some of them may someday find themselves facing unexpected financial hardships. When this happens, they may wish to modify their child support order.

If the paying parent's case is currently receiving services from the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services, and if the parent is a state resident, they may ask the court for a modification, known as a "Motion for Relief." OCSS may be able to assist paying parents in this situation with this request.

First, parents should consider why they believe support modification is appropriate. For example, perhaps the income they bring in has gone down or they lost their job. Maybe they cannot work due to a disability. Perhaps their child can no longer be covered by their health insurance policy. These are only a few examples of why a paying parent might seek a motion for relief.

Second, parents should give some thought to how the court will analyze their support obligation. Rhode Island has guidelines that courts follow when determining how much child support is necessary. Some factors the court will examine are: each parents' income; how many children they have; how much it costs for the child to be covered by a health insurance policy; and other deductions.

If OCSS agrees with the paying parent that a modification of the parent's support obligation might be permitted, it will complete the remaining legal steps for the parent, by filing the appropriate forms and securing a court date. OCSS will send the paying parent the forms they should bring with them to their court date for the judge to review.

If OCSS does not agree with the paying parent that a modification of the parent's support obligation would be permitted, it will send the parent a letter called a "Notice of Rejection" that explains why the agency denied the parent's request. The paying parent can still move forward with their motion, but they will be doing so without the assistance of OCSS.

In the end, parents who owe child support and find they are unable to pay it should take the appropriate actions as soon as possible, as their support obligation will accumulate in the meantime. It may be possible to have one's support obligation reduced or even suspended if appropriate.

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