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How is child support enforced in the state of Rhode Island?

When parents in Rhode Island split, separate or divorce, they are often concerned with the emotional, mental and physical well-being of their child or children. While the dissolution of the parents' relationship could present various family law issues, it is important that custodial and non-custodial parents understand their rights regarding child support and how these payments benefit their children and fulfill their financial needs.

How is child support enforced in Rhode Island? The enforcement of child support is only available to parents in the state who have an established order. It is often much easier to navigate the system, including the first steps of establishing an order, with the help of a Rhode Island family lawyer.

In order to initiate an action to enforce a child support agreement, there must be delinquent payments. It is often considered a major mistake for non-custodial parents or parents owing child support to not make these court ordered payments. Furthermore, if a parent knows that they are unable to make a payment, another common mistake is not filing a motion to change the order due to the circumstances with which they are currently dealing.

If there has been a substantial change in circumstances and a parent files a motion to alter or suspend payments, a court could order a reduction in payments or suspend the order temporarily or permanently. If these motions are not filed or granted and a parent fails to make payments, he or she could face serious penalties.

In order to enforce payments, the Office of Child Support Services utilizes various means of enforcement. These include the Administrative Offset Program and the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, as well as other tools such as denying a parent's passport, intercepting their insurance proceeds or lottery winnings, reporting the situation to a credit bureau, suspending their driver's license and even starting a criminal prosecution, among others.

Since the penalties associated with failed payments and the enforcement of child support could be serious, it is important that parents understand their rights and options regarding child support. Whether they seek to establish, modify or enforce child support payments, it is crucial that they are knowledgeable about their options and possible outcomes.

Source:, "Enforcement," accessed on Jan. 5, 2015

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