Distribution of Child Support Collected

For the parent who receives child support.

Recent system programming changes have created some confusion about the distribution of child support that has been collected.

The regulations issued by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement instruct states on how to distribute child support collected. The regulations may be found at 45 CFR 302.51. All states must program their child support computer system to follow the specific distribution rules.

There was an error in our computer programming that was identified by the federal auditors. We were required to correct this programming and did so on 10/1/2020.

Prior to 10/1/2020, at the end of the month, we were distributing all excess funds to the custodial parent, after all orders were satisfied and all arrears paid, rather than retaining these funds for future support. That was incorrect and violated the federal regulations (45 CFR 302.51).

As a result of this correction, custodial parents are no longer receiving the excess funds at the end of the month.

To briefly summarize: child support collected must be distributed as follows:

  1. First, distribute the current support obligation.

    • For example: If the Court orders the other parent to pay $50.00 per week as child support and the custodial parent is not receiving RIWorks cash benefits, the $50.00 per week order will be distributed to the custodial parent.
    • If the custodial parent is receiving RIWorks cash benefits, she/he would only be entitled to the first $50.00 paid for that month paid as a disregard or passthrough payment.
  2. Second, distribute the current cash medical obligation.

    • For example: If the Court orders the other parent to pay $10.00 per week as a cash medical order and the custodial parent is not receiving Medicaid, he/she would next receive that weekly amount towards the private coverage for which the custodial parent is paying.
    • If the custodial parent is receiving Medicaid, the state would keep that $10.00 per week order as reimbursement towards Medicaid.
  3. Third, distribute the weekly arrears order.

    For example: If the Court orders the other parent to pay $15.00 per week, towards past due support or arrears owed, the $10.00 per week would next be distributed either to the state, or to the custodial parent depending upon to whom the past due support was owed.

  4. Fourth, distribute towards the balance of arrears owed.

    If, AT THE END OF THE MONTH, the non-custodial parent pays more than what is owed for all of the above orders, the remaining amount would go towards any outstanding arrears owed. If there are no arrears owed, then the balance would be held as future support.

  5. Fifth, retain the balance for future support.

    • IF AT THE END OF THE MONTH, all orders are satisfied and after all arrears are paid, the distribution rules require the child support agency to hold the excess amount as future child support.
    • Then, at the beginning of the following month, the same distribution process is applied all over again and the future support is applied first towards current child support, second cash medical, third arrears order, and fourth remaining arrears.