Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines

Rhode Island Child Support Guidelines

Child Support Eligibility

Any parent or guardian of a child may complete an application for child support services for a fee of $20.00. The Rhode Island (RI) Office of Child Support Services (CSS) will assist in the location of a parent, establishing paternity, establishing a child support or medical order and enforcement of all orders. Parents or guardians receiving RI State benefits will receive the services of the child support program without the necessity of completing an application or payment of a fee. Child support payments are used to repay the welfare benefits paid to families. The family is permitted to receive the first $50.00 of child support payments received as a bonus.  Parents who are not receiving RI Works benefits retain all child support collected.

RI requires that an individual provide detailed information about the other parent and provide documents such as the child’s birth certificate, any court orders that pertain to the child and any information regarding the location of the non-custodial parent.

Obligations of Child Support

The State of Rhode Island has adopted the income shares model to determine the weekly child support order. It is based upon the philosophy that children are entitled to the standard of living based upon both parents monthly income.  By law if you are employed, the RI Family Court will order the child support obligation be taken directly from a parent’s paycheck by wage withholding. If a parent cannot afford the payments, or become unemployed, the R.I. Family Court must be requested to modify your order as quickly as possible.

Establishment of a Child Support Order

In RI, the Office of Child Support Services will file a motion to establish a support order for a family receiving FIP Benefits or a custodial parent who completes an application for services. The non-custodial parent will be served by a constable or sheriff at their place of residence or at any other location. Failure to appear at RI Family Court may result in a body attachment being served.  Both the custodial and non-custodial parent will be called as witnesses at a court hearing.

Medical Support

Per Federal and State law, the Office of Child Support Services is obligated to secure medical coverage or a cash medical order in every child support case. If the child is receiving Rite Care or Rite share benefits from the State of RI or other type of medical assistance, the Office of Child Support Services must pursue the noncustodial parent for private medical coverage for the child if it is provided to the non-custodial parent as part of his employment at no cost or at reasonable cost.

 Establishment of Paternity

 Paternity = Fatherhood.

Establishing paternity means that an individual has been legally determined to be the father of a child. Over 50% of children born in Rhode Island are born without the father’s name on the birth certificate.  Every child needs a father in his/her life:

  • for emotional and financial support.
  • to have a father/child relationship
  • to know his or her medical history and background
  • for inheritance
  • for ongoing financial support and medical coverage
  • to have a sense of belonging and identity
  • for social security benefits and veteran’s benefits

Paternity is established when the father voluntarily acknowledges paternity of the child immediately after the birth of the child in the birthing hospital. They may sign “An Affidavit of Paternity” adding the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate provided it is done voluntarily and without coercion. They may also choose the child’s last name. The father can also voluntarily acknowledge paternity at the Office of Child Support Services.

Disputed Paternity

If the alleged father does not wish to voluntarily acknowledge paternity, the Office of Child Support Services can file a Complaint for Paternity naming him as the father. The mother signs a verified complaint and an affidavit stating facts that support that he is the father. The father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate per Court order. In a contested matter, if the Court decides after a hearing, that the child’s last name will be changed to that of the father’s, it will be reflected in the Court order. It is determined based upon the best interests of the child.  Paternity may be established up until 4 years after the child reaches the age of majority.

Teenage Parenting – the PAPA Program.

RI offers the “PAPA” presentation and material which is designed to provide much-needed information about the legal and financial responsibilities of parenthood for young adults. It is PAPA’s goal throughout Rhode Island to reach every young person in the state with a very important message: That all parents – both mothers and fathers —  are responsible for supporting their children, whether they live with them or not. The program is intended to help youth understand the rights, responsibilities and reality of parenthood, paternity, and navigating the child support process.

Modifying an Order

Non-custodial Parent Motion For Relief

A Non-custodial Parent can request  that the Office of Child Support Services file paperwork called a Motion for Relief, to reduce or end your order. This can only be accomplish if the case is one is currently in the RI child support case roster, and if there are no other motions pending. The NCP will be notified in writing if the case is rejected.

Custodial Parent Motion for Relief

According to the law, either parent may request that the Rhode Island Family Court modify the child support order. However, the party requesting the modification must show a substantial change in circumstances. By completing the Custodial Parent Request for A Modification form you are requesting that the Office of Child Support Services file the paperwork called a Motion to Modify to increase your child support order. Please be advised that we can only assist you if the case is one that is currently in our child support caseload and if there are no other motions pending. You will be notified in writing if your request is rejected. You may of course file the motion “pro se” or on your own at any time. You will be required to present your case to the Magistrate/Judge to present your case. If you do not appear, the motion may be denied or pass.

Review and Adjustment

Either party or the State may file a motion for review and adjustment based upon the expiration of three years since the last child support order. Under the law the parties need not prove a substantial change in circumstances. Upon the expiration of three years the court will apply the guidelines and determine the new order. Once a child support order is established, it continues in full force and effect until it is modified or suspended by the Rhode Island Family Court.


In RI, all enforcement that takes place is computer generated and automated. A custodial parent need not contact the Office of Child Support Services to request enforcement of a delinquent order. Enforcement occurs  automatically.  RI has the following tools for enforcement:

Administrative Offset Program

Federal Tax Refund Offset Program

Passport Denial

Bank Match

Insurance proceeds Intercept

Credit Bureau Reporting

Lottery Intercept

Motion to Adjudge in Contempt

Driver’s License Suspension

Child Support Recovery Act

Administrative Liens

Access to Information

State Criminal prosecution

Restraining Orders


Body Attachments



Schedule of Basic Support Obligations

Combined Monthly Income One Child Two Children Three Children
to 1000.00
























 Financial Assistance

If a parent has become unemployed or are working less hours than when the child support order was issued, you may participate in RI’s  Rapid Job Entry Program. This program runs in conjunction with the Department of Labor & Training and is available to assist all non-custodial parents that are unemployed or underemployed, access resources plus obtain the skills necessary to find employment

 Rhode Island Resources

 Child Support Voice Response System (401) 458-4400 is available 24 hours a day

Note:  The foregoing information is provided as general child support law guidelines in Rhode Island and should not be considered as legal advice specific to your case.  After reviewing the above material, you will be presented with the opportunity to submit more details specific to your case directly to
About The Children.

Submitted by Linda O’Marie, Paralegal

Tagged with:
Posted in Rhode Island Guidelines

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