Child Support Abatement

Child Support Abatement: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the new abatement law?

A new law became effective February 1, 2021 that allows child support for eligible incarcerated parents to be abated, or temporarily reduced.  

What can parents who are incarcerated expect from the abatement law?

An eligible incarcerated parent (confined for or sentenced to, at least six months) may have their child support temporarily reduced to $10 per month per child support order regardless of the number of children on that order.

For child support orders that include abatement language, the child support amount will gradually increase back to the full ordered amount over the first year after release from confinement.

If the support order does not contain the language needed to qualify for reduced child support payments, the order may be modified to include abatement language. For more information, please call us at 1-800-422-KIDS.

What does “confinement” mean?

There are many types of confinement that may qualify a parent that is incarcerated for reduced child support payments. See examples listed below.

Confinement types can include:

  • Jail
  • Prison
  • Correctional Facility
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • Home Detention
  • Work Release
  • Work Ethic Camp
  • Work Crew
  • Other types as defined in RCW 9.94A.030

If you have a question about whether your case qualifies, please call us at 1-800-422-KIDS.

 

Why is a temporary reduction in child support being offered for parents who are incarcerated?

Many parents owe significant child support debt upon release from incarceration. Most parents do not have an income to pay child support during incarceration so they accumulate significant child support debt.

This large debt is often uncollectible because of barriers to employment and other financial obligations, once the parent is released from incarceration.

 

How does a parent qualify to receive a reduction in child support while incarcerated?

To qualify to receive a reduction in child support you must meet the following criteria:

  • Are incarcerated on or after February 1, 2021
  • Are incarcerated for, or sentenced to, at least six months in confinement, and
    • Do not have the ability to pay child support. 
    • Have a Washington State child support order that contains a section referencing abatement.

 

How will the parties (the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent) be notified that the child support has been reduced due to incarceration?

When DCS is administering the abatement, parties (the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent) will receive a Notice of Abatement, DSHS 27-196, form for each order containing abatement language.

 

Will the noncustodial parent’s child support be reduced if they have assets or income to pay child support during incarceration?

If you are a parent owed support and know the paying parent is incarcerated and has access to assets or income, please contact DCS at 1-800-422-KIDS for further assistance.

 

What do I do if I disagree with abatement (or non-abatement)?

Both parties (the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent) have the right to a hearing about a reduction in child support. Please contact DCS at 1-800-422-KIDS for further assistance.

 

Can support be retroactively reduced for periods of time before DCS was made aware of a person’s qualifying incarceration?

Yes, as long as the noncustodial parent is currently incarcerated, DCS may abate support back to the date confinement began or 02/01/2021, whichever is later. If DCS learns of a qualifying incarceration after the noncustodial parent is released, DCS cannot abate the child support.