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Rhode Island legislators seek harsher child support penalties

In recent news, there has been a push for change in support payment laws. According to reports, Representative Peter Petrarca and Senator John Tassoni of Rhode Island are in the process of introducing a new child support bill. The proposal would make it a felony to owe more than $5,000 in back child support payments. Violators would face up to five years in prison.

Under Rhode Island's current law, if one falls back on child support payments, he or she does not face criminal charges until they are $10,000 in debt. The legislators say that the $10,000 threshold is too high. They urge the state to aggressively pursue noncustodial parents who fail to contribute to their children.

If the proposal is put into effect, the changes might affect noncustodial parents. Given the devastating nature of the current economy, many people are finding themselves unemployed. Even if someone has a job, many employees are experiencing pay reductions. For this reason, the bill proposal may put a greater number of people in criminal waters. Many parents have found themselves behind on payments because they cannot make ends meet. Under the new proposal, if your debt rises into the $5,000 level, you will face a serious felony.

While the bill is not set in place, discussion of such issue calls for an evaluation of current payments. Are you struggling to meet your obligations under your current child support arrangement? Many people incorrectly believe that child support obligations are sporadically reviewed by the court and adjusted as needed; however, this is not true. If you believe a change is warranted, you must take action in order for the court to conduct a review of your current financial situation. Otherwise, months or years down the road, you may find yourself thousands of dollars behind in payments.

If recent changes have altered your ability to meet your current required payments, you should speak to a knowledgeable attorney about a potential child support modification. Do not wait until it is too late.

Source: Boston Globe, "RI lawmakers take aim at child support deadbeats," Feb. 8, 2012

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