Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to DSHS Economic Services Administration's Frequently Asked Questions!

When a parent requests a hearing on a NFFR, the hearing is limited to resolving the noncustodial parent's current and future support obligation and the accrued support debt, and establishing the medical support obligations of both the noncustodial parent (NCP) and the custodial parent (CP), if the CP is the legal or biological parent of the child.

  • The hearing is not for the purpose of setting a payment schedule on the support debt.
  • The NCP has the burden of proving any defenses to liability. See WAC 388-14A-3370.
  • The NCP or the CP must provide testimony or proof to support their claim that the terms in the NFFR are incorrect.
  • The administrative law judge (ALJ) has authority to enter a support obligation that may be higher or lower than the amounts set forth in the NFFR, including the support debt, current support, and the future support obligation. The ALJ may enter an order that differs from the terms stated in the notice, including different debt periods, if the obligation is supported by credible evidence presented by any party at the hearing, without further notice to any nonappearing party, if the ALJ finds that due process requirements have been met.
  • The ALJ has no authority to determine custody or visitation issues, or to set a payment schedule for the arrears debt.
  • When a party has advised the ALJ that they will participate in the hearing by telephone, the ALJ attempts to contact that party on the record before beginning the proceeding or rules on a motion. The ALJ may not disclose to the other party the telephone number or the location of the party appearing by phone.
  • In certain cases, there is no "custodial parent" because the child or children are in foster care.
  • In certain cases, there can be two NCPs, called "joint NCPs." This happens when a husband and wife, or registered domestic partners, are jointly served a support establishment notice for a common child who is not residing in their home.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, call the Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. This hotline will help you determine if you have encountered a victim of human trafficking and will identify local resources in your community to help victims.

Your approval letter will list changes that must be reported based on the type of benefits received. You may also refer to the Client Rights and Responsibilities, DSHS Form 14-113, included in the application process. If you don’t do these things, you may be denied benefits or have to pay them back. For more detailed information you can link to our EZ-Manual on this topic.

Under Washington State law, an employer who fails or refuses to comply with the Notice can be fined up to $1,000 per occurrence.

DCS wants to resolve grievances at the first possible level, without the necessity of a Conference Board. If you contest a DCS action:

  • Contact the Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) assigned to the case and explain your grievance. If the SEO cannot resolve your grievance, ask the SEO what your options are.
  • If the action allows you to request an administrative hearing, click here for information on Administrative Hearings.
  • If a hearing is unavailable to you, and the matter is still unresolved, ask to talk to your SEO's Lead worker.
  • When the Lead worker cannot resolve the matter, you must talk to the Supervisor before requesting a Conference Board Request. The Supervisor may be able to resolve the issue.
  • When you receive the Conference Board Request, describe your grievance as thoroughly as possible.
  • Send it to the DCS Field Office handling your case.
  • DCS may issue a Conference Board Decision based solely on your written statement and information available in the case record. If a Conference Board is to be held, DCS will notify you where and when to appear.
  • DCS will send you a written Decision after holding the Conference Board. Your SEO will honor that Decision.

Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

Check box 5 on the Employer Response form and send the form to DCS and indicate the cost the employee would have to pay for the dependent coverage.

  • Contact your Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) to negotiate payments.
  • Your SEO may ask you to complete a Resource Statement. Click here for a Resource Statement, DSHS 18-97. Show all of your monthly expenses, periodic bills, and assets on the Resource Statement.
  • DCS wants to reach a repayment agreement that you can live with, yet taking your children's needs into consideration.
  • Ask your SEO if you can negotiate an escalation clause in your payment agreement. This allows DCS to collect a lesser amount towards back support in the beginning and increase the amount as you pay off some of your outstanding bills.
  • Back support payments may depend on how old your support obligation is. You may be asked to sign a Waiver of the Statute of Limitations. This also allows DCS to collect a lesser amount towards back support.
  • If you cannot come to a repayment agreement with your SEO, follow the instruction above to request a Conference Board.

Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

Anyone can apply to the Department of Social and Health Services. Your eligibility for services will need to be determined before you can receive DSHS services. You can apply on-line through the Washington Connection Portal or through your local DSHS Community Service Office.

When you visit a DSHS Community Service Office, please bring the following documented information to help with your eligibility determination:

  • Your immigration status documentation
  • Proof of Washington residency
  • Information on your income
  • Name of your voluntary resettlement agency (VOLAG)

Complete and return an application for Full Enforcement services. Once your completed application is received the case will be assigned to a Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) who will monitor the case , take collection actions as appropriate, track the debt owed, and assist with modification.

We will need to know your new address, who lives with you and how much you now pay for rent. We might request proof of your new circumstances.

DCS can take all of the following actions to enforce support:

  1. Attach wages.
  2. Attach unemployment compensation.
  3. Attach workmen's compensation (Labor & Industries).
  4. Attach pensions not protected under federal law.
  5. Attach non-earned funds payable to the non-custodial parent.
  6. Attach settlements as the result of lawsuits.
  7. Attach funds in financial institutions.
  8. File liens with county auditors where real or personal property is located.
  9. File liens against vehicles or vessels licensed with the Department of Licensing.
  10. Seize property held in safety deposit boxes.
  11. Seize vehicles or other personal property for sale at public auction.
  12. Request the suspension of drivers, professional and recreational licenses.
  13. Refer cases for judicial enforcement.
  14. Attach federal IRS income tax refunds and other federal payable funds.
  15. Non-renewal of U.S. Passports.
  16. Report debt to credit reporting agencies.
  17. Refer cases to an Indian tribe for establishment or enforcement.

DCS takes some collection actions, like income withholding, right away. If the noncustodial parent owes back support, we file a lien.

Federal law requires that some actions be taken on child support cases without the involvement of Support Enforcement Officers. These "automated actions" may include IRS certification, credit bureau reporting, and passport denial. Federal law requires that DCS file a lien on all back support debts. Support orders must contain immediate wage withholding language. DCS must initiate immediate wage withholding no later than 3 days after receiving the support order. If the support order requires a delinquency before enforcement, DCS must initiate income withholding no later than 15 days from date the payment was due.

Federal or state law require that DCS wait until a certain amount of debt is reached before DCS takes some actions, such as license suspension and passport non-renewal.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About 25 percent receive partial payment and 25 percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

See the following resources:


  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868
  • If an employer fails to enroll a child in an available medical plan, DCS may fine the employer $200 for the first month of non-enrollment, $300 for the second month, and $500 for the third month, not to exceed $1,000 for each Notice of Enrollment. RCW 48.01.235 requires the employer not to wait until the next open enrollment to enroll the child, but to enroll the child immediately.

  • DCS can assess a fine of $100 for each failure to comply with an inquiry, subpoena, lien, or withholding instrument.

  • DCS may impose fines when an employer fails to report the hiring of a new employee at $25 per employee per month, or $500 if failure to report is the result of a conspiracy between the employer and employee.


Despite recent record improvements in paternity establishment and child support collections, much more needs to be done to ensure that all children born out-of-wedlock have paternity established and that all non-custodial parents provide financial support for their children. Currently, only about one-half of the custodial parents due child support receive full payment. About twenty-five percent receive partial payment and twenty-five percent receive nothing.

In an effort to strengthen and improve state child support enforcement activities, several federal laws were passed, including a national new-hire reporting system. These laws required states to pass uniform interstate child support laws, automate enforcement actions, and provide for tougher noncompliance penalties, such as driver's license revocation.

  1. Your complaint is taken or received by the Office of Fraud and Accountability Welfare Fraud Hotline Coordinator.
    NOTE: If you wish to remain anonymous, do not provide your name as it may be subject to public disclosure. If you choose not to remain anonymous, please provide your name and phone number so one of our investigators may contact you if any additional information is needed.
  2. The Coordinator then sends a report out for investigation.
    NOTE: Once the report is sent out, the Coordinator has no further information regarding the investigation.
    ALSO: The status or results of an investigation cannot be disclosed per
    RCW 74.04.060.
  3. The Investigator completes an investigation of the allegations.
  4. The results of the investigation are sent to the appropriate Community Services Office (Welfare Office).
  5. OFA criminal investigation results may be sent to the appropriate prosecutor.

Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

If you have never received TANF, Tribal TANF or AFDC as the custodian of a child and you are the custodian in more than one child support case, a fee will be deducted for each case where at least $550 is collected and disbursed during the federal fiscal year, which is October 1st through September 30th.


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO CUSTODIANS RECEIVING IV-D CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES:

Beginning October 1, 2019, the annual fee for services increases from $25 to $35. Washington law provides that the custodial parent pays this fee. The $35 fee will be withheld from child support payments that are made on the case, but only after $550 in child support has been disbursed to the family between October 1 and September 30 (the federal fiscal year), and only if the custodial parent has never received TANF, Tribal TANF or AFDC on behalf of a child.

If you have questions, or would like additional information about the $35 fee please refer to the following links, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS.

If neither party to the case asks for a hearing:

  • The NFFR will become a final order:
    • 21 days after the noncustodial parent receives the notice if the noncustodial parent received this notice in Washington State, or
    • 61 days after the noncustodial parent receives the notice if the noncustodial parent received this notice outside Washington State.
  • The deviations, credits, and limitations set forth in this notice and the attachedWashington State Child Support Schedule worksheets become findings of fact.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

If neither party to the case asks for a hearing before the notice becomes a final order, either party may make a late request for hearing after the time limits listed above. A late request for hearing does not stop any enforcement action taken by DCS on the support order.

There are two kinds of late requests for hearing:

  • If DCS receives the late request for hearing within one year of the date of service of the notice, the parent requesting the hearing is not required to show good cause to have a hearing on the merits of the notice.
  • If DCS receives the late request for hearing more than one year after the date of service of the notice, the parent requesting the hearing must show good cause why the hearing request was not timely.

Note: WAC 388-14A-3500 describes good cause for filing a late request for hearing.


If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

Indian Tribes have sovereign immunity from lawsuits and garnishment actions. If you receive a child support Income Withholding notice, and you are an Indian tribe, tribally-owned enterprise, or Indian-owned business located on a reservation or trust land, contact your Tribe to determine how to respond. Some Indian tribes voluntarily honor Income Withholding notices under a cooperative agreement or an informal process with the Division of Child Support (DCS). Other Tribes have their own child support laws, policies and/or programs.

For more information, see the DCS Tribal Relations Internet Site or you may contact a DCS Tribal Liaison.


  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868

The Division of Child Support will know if you have received TANF or AFDC through Washington State. However, if you have received TANF, Tribal TANF, or AFDC in another state or tribal jurisdiction you must let us know or the fee may be charged for your case. You may submit proof of past public assistance by submitting certified public assistance records from that other state or tribal agency, or a letter confirming receipt of public assistance on that agency's letterhead. Please enclose DCS Form 18-686 with your proof.


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO CUSTODIANS RECEIVING IV-D CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES:

Beginning October 1, 2019, the annual fee for services increases from $25 to $35. Washington law provides that the custodial parent pays this fee. The $35 fee will be withheld from child support payments that are made on the case, but only after $550 in child support has been disbursed to the family between October 1 and September 30 (the federal fiscal year), and only if the custodial parent has never received TANF, Tribal TANF or AFDC on behalf of a child.

If you have questions, or would like additional information about the $35 fee please refer to the following links, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS.

In some cases, you have the right to ask for an administrative hearing (adjudicative proceeding) if you disagree with an action taken by DCS. The papers you get will tell you if you can ask for a hearing. You should ask for a hearing right away, since there is a limited time to do so.

You may ask to speak with a lead worker or supervisor if you are unable to resolve things with the worker handling your case.

Conference Board

You may ask for a Conference Board if you disagree with any action taken by DCS. You must first try to resolve the disagreement with staff at the DCS office nearest you. A Conference Board is an informal way to resolve disputes related to how DCS works your case. Sometimes a Conference Board can also provide relief from the effects of collection action or from a support debt. A Conference Board may review the records on your case or may hold a meeting in person or by phone if more information is needed. A Conference Board decision is issued in writing.

A Brochure about Conference Boards is available.