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We have all heard the term "deadbeat parent" at some point in reference to a parent who either abandons their child or who fails to provide any sort of financial support to help cover the child's needs as they grow. Unfortunately, scenarios such as these in which a non-custodial parent fails to pay court-ordered child support happen all too often. But what exactly happens if a parent blows off their child support obligations, and what rights do custodial parents have to collect on this owed money?

In the state of Rhode Island, non-custodial parents who fail to make payments as established in a court-ordered support arrangement can be subject to strict measures under both state and federal law. According to the Rhode Island Child Support Enforcement website, non-compliant parents can face the following consequences:

  • A suspended driver's license, as well as suspended business or professional licenses
  • A suspension of vehicle registrations on all cars, motorcycles, trucks, etc.
  • Forfeiture of any insurance proceeds, tax refunds, and lottery winnings
  • Automatic deduction of support payments from paychecks (wage garnishment)
  • Denial of a passport application
  • Lowered credit score due to reported owed payments
  • Lien placement on real estate and personal property
  • State criminal prosecution
  • A charge of contempt of court, possibly carrying jail time

Enforcing a Child Support Order in Rhode Island

It is important to note that only court ordered child support arrangements can be enforced. If you and your child's other parent only have a verbal agreement, you will not be able have the courts step in and enforce the arrangement. If you do not have a support order, you will need to file an action for child support in your county superior court, which will then prompt the court to issue an order in an amount that is in the child's best interests.

If you are able to provide sufficient evidence of the other parent's non-compliance, the court may choose to hold them in contempt. If the other parent still does not pay, they will be subject to stringent penalties, including the possibility of serving jail time for their insubordination.

By far the most effective way to enforce a child support order is to retain the services of a knowledgeable attorney. If you are struggling to achieve cooperation from a noncompliant parent, our Providence family law attorneys at TJC ESQ can help you pursue the proven strategies necessary to yield the results you need. We have more than 30+ years of trial-tested legal experience!

Call (401) 216-4414 or fill out an online form today to find out more about how we can help.

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