§ 15-22-1. Access to information.
(a) The department of human services, office of child support services, and/or any other state or federal agency taking action to establish paternity, establish or modify child support and/or medical orders, enforce child support and/or medical orders, or to locate an individual for these reasons, shall have access to and may request information from the individuals and the entities named in this section. The information shall be available to the department only for the purpose of and to the extent necessary for the administration of the child support enforcement program. No entity or individual who complies with this section shall be liable in any civil or criminal action or proceeding brought by an obligor or an obligee on account of compliance. Holders maintaining personal data are authorized to disclose to the department all personal data requested pursuant to this section, and the disclosures shall not violate the provisions of § 38-2-2. Any entity or individual who, without reasonable cause, fails to reply to a request pursuant to this subsection or who, without reasonable cause, fails to comply with a request within twenty (20) days of receipt, shall be liable for a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation, to be assessed by the department or by the family court. The department may secure information to which it is entitled by any method including, but not limited to, requests by paper, facsimile, telephone, magnetic tape, or other electronic means.
(b)(1) Information to which the department shall be entitled includes, but is not limited to, state income tax returns and all state income tax information, including address, filing status, and the number of dependents reported on any return filed by any obligor, any other information, the contents and nature of which shall be determined and approved by the tax administrator, and the federal tax data as permitted by federal law.
(2) The information included in this provision shall be data or tax returns in any form or format, including data available by electronic means which is directly related to the obligor.
(c) Unless otherwise limited by statute, the department shall be entitled to all criminal offender record information of the obligor which is necessary to locate the obligor or establish the obligor's ability to pay including, but not limited to, national criminal information center (NCIC) records and bureau of criminal identification (BCI) records maintained by the department of the attorney general and the quarterly contribution reports of the department of labor and training.
(d) Unless otherwise limited by federal statute, the department may require electronic disclosure of information relating to the obligor including, but not limited to, the obligor's location, employment, title to property, credit status, or professional affiliation to assist the department to determine the current whereabouts of an obligor from any source including, but not limited to, any state or municipal agency, utility company, including telephone, cell phone company, assessor's offices, and housing authorities, employers, professional or trade associations and labor unions, professional or trade licensing boards, banks and other financial institutions, credit bureaus or agencies, or any other individual or entity which the department has reason to believe may have information that relates to or may assist in the location of the obligor. The failure of an individual or entity to provide the department, within the time and in the manner that the department may provide by regulation, with information relating to, or that may assist in locating, an obligor shall be punishable by a civil penalty to be assessed by the family court or the department of human services, office of child support services in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100) for each failure, and the individual or entity shall be required to provide the information.
(e) In requiring information about an obligor from a telephone company; including a cell phone company, the department shall be limited to obtaining the billing and/or residential address of the obligor. No location information, including, but not limited to, global positioning system data, that in whole or in part, is generated by or derived from the operation of such device shall be sought or received.
(f) The department may request from any employer or other source of income whom the department has reason to believe employs an obligor, or otherwise provides the obligor with regular periodic income, information concerning the dates and amounts of income paid, the last known address, social security number, and available health care benefits. The department shall not inquire of an employer or other source of income concerning the same obligor more than once every three months. Employers or other sources of income shall respond to the requests truthfully and in writing. No employer or other source of income who complies with this section shall be liable in any civil action or proceeding brought by the obligor on account of such compliance. Any employer or other source of income who, without good cause, fails to comply with a request as required by this section, within twenty (20) days of receipt of the request, shall be liable for a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100) per day for each day of violation to be assessed by the family court or the department of administration, division of taxation, and shall be required to provide the information.
(g) The department shall use the information gathered pursuant to this chapter only for purposes of administering the child support enforcement program and shall not disclose the information, other than the name and address of the obligor, except in proceedings or other activities to locate or identify obligors, to evaluate the ability of obligors to pay child support, to establish, modify, or enforce child support orders, to collect child support, or in criminal prosecutions for failure to pay child support. Any employee of the department that uses or discloses the information in any other manner shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both.
[See § 12-1-15 of the General Laws.]
(P.L. 1995, ch. 370, art. 29, § 6; P.L. 1995, ch. 374, § 6; P.L. 1997, ch. 170, § 12; P.L. 2013, ch. 169, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 231, § 1.)