Incarceration for failure to pay support in RI is not Punitive

If a noncustodial parent does not pay his child support, then the other parent may file a motion to hold the obligor parent in willful contempt. In cases in which the Custodial Parent is a full-service client of the State of Rhode Island, Child Support Enforcement then the motion can be pursued by the state. The State of RI will usually automatically file this motion when more than 4 months of child support is owed.

Providence Family Court child support

Child support laws in RI

If a person is found in willful contempt of a  RI child Support Order than they are subject to being incarcerated at the ACI. This incarceration is day to day until the non-payor purges himself of the contempt.

Not everyone Found in Willful Contempt is Jailed!

Many people who are found in willful contempt do not actually go to jail!  A Rhode Island child support lawyers are aware of this. The Court Could suspend a person’s sentence or a friend or family member could come up with a lump sum at the last minute. The Court could also fashion another remedy.

Willful Contempt is not paying when you had the ability to pay!

A person’s contempt is willful if he had the ability to pay child support and intentionally does not pay. A contempt could also be willful if the person intentionally did not make proper efforts to obtain employment or other reasons. If a person is facing potential incarceration and cannot afford an attorney and is indigent, then the Rhode Island Family Court must provide him with a free RI child support attorney. The RI Family Court is obligated to review any sentence of incarceration no more than 30 days after the incarceration begins.

Technical Contempt = A valid reason for nonpayment of a Support order and means NO Jail Time!

If a person is behind on child support but does not have the ability to pay, then failure to pay may be a technical contempt. Technical contempt does not warrant a prison sentence.

If a person is sentenced to the ACI, they may be released:

  • within the 30 days if an appropriate lump sum is raised
  • or after spending 30 days incarcerated, if the Court believes there is no possible way for the incarcerated parent to raise a lump sum while incarcerated.

Being sent to Jail for contempt is not intended to be punitive, it is intended to force a person to make child support payments.

Rhode Island Child Support Lawyer, David Slepkow concentrates in Family Law, Child Custody and Divorce in Rhode Island Family Court. Contact David at 401-437-1100

Authored by:

David Slepkow, Attorney

1481 Wampanoag Trail Riverside, RI 02915
(401) 437-1100


Resources Authored by Rhode Island child support lawyer, David Slepkow:

RI Law: Child Support -No Automatic Termination – Slepkow

Overtime And Child Support In Rhode Island

Rhode Island Child Support Articles by a RI Lawyer – Slepkow


Other Child Support Resources not authored by a Rhode Island Child Support lawyer:

State of Rhode Island: Office of Child Support Services: A comprehensive informational website by Rhode Island Child Support Enforcement

Child support – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Child Support Enforcement-Massachusetts Department of Revenue Child Support Enforcement website

sperm donor ordered to pay child support prepares for battle