Child Support Rhode Island: Laws and Process

Last Updated on October 26, 2023 by Lori Pace

Parents of a child can separate for different reasons, or they did not even marry. No matter what, the parents of a child have a responsibility and responsibilities to provide for their needs. Rhode Island has child support laws that ensure both parents care of the child.

The Process For Child Support After Divorce

The Office of Child Supports Services is responsible for administering child support in Rhode Island. The parent or guardian can submit an application. A $20 fee will be for families who are not receiving financial assistance. Parents who receive public assistance such as Temporary Assistance for the Needy Families (TANF), RI Works or RIte Care will automatically receive a referral to child support without cost.

The OCSS helps custodial parents locate the noncustodial parent and establish parentage of parents who fill in this application form. They also help to enforce child support orders. Certain details are important as they will speed up the establishment of the support order. These details include the name of the non-custodial parents, complete address, telephone numbers, employer information, social safety number, investment and assets information, identification for custodial parents, birth certificates, and the child’s information. The majority of information about the non-custodial parents will help locate them. To make it easier to locate the non-custodial parents, it is important that all information provided be accurate. The case can’t move forward until the noncustodial parent receives a notice about the pending child support case.

The Process For Child Support After Divorce 4

After Locating The Noncustodial Parent

Once the notice reaches the parent, it is time to determine the parentage of your child. The three main methods of establishing the parentage for a child are:


Marriage plays a role in deciding who is/are legal parents.

If the mother is married at the time of the child’s birth, she and her spouse will be presumed to be the legal parents of the child.

Voluntary Acknowledgement Of Parentage (VAP)

For unmarried parents who agree that the child belongs to them. When the child is born, the parents fill in a VAP form at the hospital. After the completion of VAP they add the names of the parents onto the child’s birth record.

Court Order

If an alleged parent refuses or feels that the child is theirs, the state may request genetic testing to confirm the parentage. This is where they use DNA testing. It can show if a man is the father of the child or exclude him from the role.

For additional details on parentage, check this online booklet page and the Office of Child Support Services website. After the establishment of parentage, the OCSS will be able to establish the child support order and a medical support order if applicable.

How To Receive Child Support in Rhode Island

Parents who are custodial in Rhode Island may receive child support payments via a debit card or directly into their bank accounts. In short, two arrangements make this possible.

The Kids Card

A debit card issued to Rhode Island’s custodial parents by default, after the case has been resolved. The Kids Card functions just like regular debit cards and you can use them at ATMs or other locations that accept debit cards. Parents who were on a different payment arrangement but wish to register for the card can fill this card application form.

The Kids Card

Direct Deposit for Child Support in Rhode Island

This arrangement allows electronic transfers of child support payments to the account of the custodial parents as soon as money becomes available. Direct Deposit is a fast, secure and reliable method to receive payments. For parents to register, they must have an existing checking or savings account and must fill the Authorization for Direct Deposit.

The Maximum Amount That Your Family Can Receive For Child Support 

The Income Shares model helps calculate child support in Rhode Island. This model assumes that the child should have a standard living comparable to what would be provided if both parents are together. The court will consider the combined gross incomes of the parents when determining child support. This includes benefits such as workers compensation and social security disability benefits. The cost of childcare, pre existing child support obligations, healthcare costs, number and children of the parents are all factors that the court considers when calculating the child support order. The court will usually issue an income order to the employer of the non-custodial parent so that the payments can be taken directly from their paychecks.

Enforcement of Child Support

The Office of Child Support Services is responsible for ensuring that non-custodial parents fulfill their child support obligations. Additionally, even if the child is now an adult, a parent must pay all child support he/she owes. OCSS has several enforcement tools that they use to enforce child support. They activate these tools are automatically when the parent meets a certain criteria. These tools include:

  • Rejection of passport application
  • Interception of winning lottery tickets
  • Suspension driver’s license
  • Interception of insurance payouts
  • Interception of tax refunds
  • Reporting to Credit Bureaus
  • Administrative liens
  • Criminal prosecution, etc.

All child support payments that are not paid in full accrue interest at a rate equal to 12% per year. The noncustodial parent is required to pay all child support owed and interest accrued. A full list of the enforcement options and tools is available online.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!