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Rhode Island Court Records

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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, parents are legally obligated to provide for their children, despite their marital status, relationship, or residence. For this reason, the child support program was established to ensure that children are financially and emotionally cared for by their parents through regular support payments. The Rhode Island Family Court and Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) administer and oversee the child support program within the state. Each agency shares some responsibility in enforcing child support orders.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is Rhode Island Child Support?

The laws regulating child support orders and implementation in Rhode Island are outlined under Title 15 of the state’s General Laws. Child support, as defined by these statutes, is a court-ordered sum of money paid by a non-custodial parent (obligor) to a custodial parent (obligee) for the maintenance of one or more children. When entered by the Family Court, this support order runs until the court modifies or suspends it. This means that although child support typically ends when a child turns 18, or continues until the 19th birthday if the child is in high school, or goes beyond if the child is severely disabled (RIGL 15–5–16.2(b)),, this order does not terminate automatically upon the occurrence of any of these events, but only with the approval of the court.

What Does Child Support Cover in Rhode Island?

The Rhode Island Family Court orders child support to fund the basic needs and expenses of children such as clothing/apparel, food, housing, transportation, entertainment, childcare, health insurance, and medical costs.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, Family Court judges determine support payments with the RI Child Support Guideline Schedule (2018). This guideline is derived from the income shares model: the idea that children are entitled to the exact living standards that they would be privy to if their parents resided together. With this guideline, child support is calculated considering factors such as the parents’ monthly gross income, the number of dependent children, and child-related expenses. Given the irregularities of these factors, the average child support payment that a person is expected to pay differs by case. Interested persons may, however, estimate their child support amounts using the Child Support Guideline Worksheet.

How do I apply for Child Support in Rhode Island?

Parents or legal guardians may request child support through the Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services (OCSS). The application fee is $20. To open a support case, individuals may submit the Application for Child Support Services form. It is compulsory to complete and sign this form, else the OCSS cannot process it. In completing the application form, vital information such as names, contact numbers, social security numbers, addresses of the custodial/non-custodial parents must be provided, as well as documents such as a child’s birth certificate, divorce decree, custody documents, paternity affidavit, and other child-related court orders. Alternatively, interested persons may contact the OCSS at (401) 458–4400 to request child support. Note, however, that anyone who is receiving RI Works or RIte Care Benefits does not need to begin a new application as child support is already part of the aid.

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Rhode Island?

When the Family Court enters a child support order in Rhode Island, the non-custodial parent’s obligation continues until that order is terminated by the court. This can happen if the child has reaches a certain age (typically 18 years), and is not dependent or still in high school. Although obligors cannot simply get out of paying child support, it is possible to file a motion for modification with the court on one’s own or with a lawyer. The court forms necessary to file this motion may be obtained from the Family Court Clerk’s Office in Providence, Rhode Island.

The second option is to ask the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) to review the support order. If the request is approved, the OCSS will then file a motion with the court and the parents involved will be required to attend a court hearing. Keep in mind that the OCSS provides two types of reviews:

  • Motion for modification
  • Motion for review and adjustment

The key difference between these two motions is that a parent who files a request for modification will be expected to show a change in circumstance, whereas a person requesting a review and adjustment will not.

Request/Motion for Modification:

A custodial parent or non-custodial parent may submit a request to increase or decrease support amounts, or suspend an order. However, the requester must show a “substantial change in circumstances,” described by § 1.22.2 of the RI Child Support Rules and Regulations, 218-RICR–30–00–1, to mean:

  • If 36 months have passed since the entry or review of the order
  • The existing support order does not include health care coverage for the child(ren)
  • The current support order would deviate 15% or greater when a new income is applied to the child support guidelines
  • There is a child not covered by the current support order, or if the non-custodial parent is paying support for an extra child or dependent who is not included in the original order
  • There is a change in custody or obligation for a child’s care covered by the support order. This change could include the loss of employment, incarceration, public assistance, a rise in the child’s needs, reconciliation, and others

Obligees who meet this criteria and want to increase their support awards may find the request form (Custodial Parent Request for a Modification) on the OCSS forms page. Below is the mailing address to send completed forms to the OCSS:

Office of Child Support Services

77 Dorrance Street

Providence, RI 02903

On the other hand, obligors may complete and submit the Motion for Relief through the OCSS to ask the Family Court to decrease or suspend a support order. Self-represented obligors may use the Motion for Relief: Filing as a Self - Represented Litigant form instead.

Request/Motion for Review and Adjustment: Individuals who qualify to file this type of motion must have had their child support orders issued three years before filing. As stated before, there is no requirement to show a material change to adjust a support order. The file to form with the OCSS or court is the Motion for Review and Adjustment. The OCSS provides more information on its modifying an order and non-custodial parent services webpages.

What is Back Child Support in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island law describes back child support as the sum of money that an obligor owes to the state or a custodial parent, with interest. This amount is also called arrears, arrearages, or past-due support. In the state, the interest on past-due support is calculated per annum at 12% or per month at 1%.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Rhode Island?

Rhode Islanders who processed their child support orders through the Office of Child Support Services do not need to take any action personally to recover back child support. The OCSS supervises child support payments electronically and will automatically enforce any unpaid support. Enforcement methods used by the agency include Credit Bureau reporting, contempt proceedings, income withholding, property liens, passport denial, insurance offset, felony conviction/criminal nonsupport, and others listed under § 1.20 of the RI Child Support Rules and Regulations, 218-RICR–30–00–1.

When a non-custodial parent owes child support past 90 days, the OCSS may revoke or suspend the defaulter’s driver’s license, permit, professional license(s), and other related papers. For obligors who owe above $500, the OCSS may offset lottery winnings or suspend driving privileges.

Is there a Rhode Island Statute of Limitation on Child Support?

No, Rhode Island law does not specify a statute of limitations for collecting or enforcing back child support. Under the law, child support continues until a child turns 18 years old or finishes high school. This order can only be terminated by the Family Court, not a statutory limitation.

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