Frequently Asked Questions

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

Under federal law, everyone who gets TANF or medical assistance automatically gets child support services and must help the Division of Child Support (DCS) provide those services. DSHS calls this "cooperation."

Your cooperation is needed to:

  • Establish paternity - help identify the father of your child or children.
  • Establish child support orders - give DCS any information you have about where the other parent lives and works, and about their income and assets.
  • Modify child support orders - complete paperwork and provide your income information so DCS can review your current order for needed changes.
  • Enforce child support orders - give DCS any information you have about the other parent, including information about employment, vehicles, assets, and bank accounts.

No. Benefits are provided to people and families in need without obligation. However, if a client has received benefits and is then found to be ineligible, they may be required to pay back the overpayment.


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.

No. DCS does not represent either parent in a child support action, whether the action takes place in a court or administrative hearing.

You have the right to have an attorney represent you in court or an administrative hearing, if you are able to get one.

For an administrative hearing, you may have anyone you choose represent you.

In either place, you can represent yourself.

If you fear for your safety if you appear for a court or administrative hearing, talk with a DCS official about participating by telephone for the hearing, or being in a separate room from your abuser.

If the noncustodial parent has an IRS refund due, the IRS will withhold all or part of the refund to pay a past-due support debt. Only the state where you applied for services can ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to attach a tax refund.

DCS uses the following criteria for IRS refund tax offset:

  • The noncustodial parent's correct Social Security number is on the case record.
  • The past-due amount owed to you must be $500 or more.
  • The amount must have accrued under a valid support order and DCS must have a copy on file.

If the children ever received public assistance, back support may be owed to the state. The amount owed to the state must equal $150 or more and be three months past due to qualify for tax-refund offset.


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.

No. Only the courts may address custody and visitation issues. Parents who sign a Paternity Acknowledgment may initiate a court action to address these issues. Refer the parents to the "Establish Parentage for Your Child's Sake" booklet for more information.

DCS cannot set an order requiring a father to pay child support if paternity is not established. Paternity can be established by:

  • Marriage (the husband is presumed by law to be the father of any child born during the marriage),
  • Court order (the court can enter an order stating that a certain man is the father of the child) or
  • Acknowledgment (unmarried parents sign and file an affidavit stating that they are the parents of the child).

    If the parents were married when the child was born, Washington law presumes the husband to be the father. This means that DCS can establish a support order against the husband.

    If the parents were not married at the time the child was born, or if the mother was married to a man who is not the father of the child, then the parties may:

  • Sign and file an Acknowledgment of Paternity (which must be signed by the mother's husband if he is not the father), 
    Or
  • Ask the court to determine which man is the legal father of the child.

    DCS can help you establish paternity and enter a child support order for your child or children. Either parent can apply for child support services to establish paternity. If DCS has to go to court, they will refer your case to the county prosecuting attorney.

    If you get TANF or medical assistance, and you are afraid it would be dangerous for you to establish paternity, you must follow the rules for DSHS to approve good cause for not cooperating with DCS.

    If you do not explain that you are afraid, or DSHS does not grant good cause, DCS and the county prosecutor will make you cooperate in establishing paternity. If you do not respond to mail or phone calls from DSHS, you may lose your benefits.

If the noncustodial parent lives in another state or U.S. territory, DCS can ask the other jurisdiction to establish or enforce a support order. Once the case is sent to another jurisdiction, the other jurisdiction has control over most of the actions taken on the case.

If the non-custodial parent lives in a foreign country, DCS may have an agreement with the country to enforce a child support order. Contact DCS to find out if the country where the noncustodial parent lives has reciprocity with Washington.


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.

DCS works with tribal governments to address these cases. DCS and the State Tribal Relations Unit have worked together to negotiate agreements and processes with Indian tribes. Some agreements include referring cases to the tribe or tribal court for the establishment or enforcement of child support. For more information visit the DCS .


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.

By the time you open a case with DCS, you may already be involved in a divorce or a paternity action in court. If the court has not yet filed a child support order, DCS can usually establish an administrative child support order.

This can get child support started while you are waiting for the court case to be completed or if you believe that your abuser is using the court system to further abuse or harass you by filing lots of legal papers and prolonging the matter.

When the court enters a child support order, it replaces the administrative order. However, while the court action is pending, DCS can enforce its own administrative child support order.

Many domestic violence victims are nervous about collecting child support, but want to go forward with a support case because they need the money. Many feel that the other parent should be responsible for the children.

When it is relatively safe to do so, it makes sense to go forward. However, if it starts to be unsafe to collect child support, you can claim good cause from the CSO at any time while you are receiving TANF or medical assistance.

Remember you can ask DCS to stop collecting if the other parent reacts in a way you did not anticipate. If at any time the consequences of collecting outweigh the benefits, then you may want claim good cause and stop collecting support.

If you are on TANF or medical assistance when you want to stop or start collection, talk with your CSO worker. DCS cannot change how it works the case until you contact the CSO and talk with workers there, and perhaps go through the good cause process.

If you are not receiving any public assistance, contact DCS to discuss your concerns about safety and child support.

If you are limited in your ability to read, write, or speak in English, DSHS will provide information about available services to you in your primary language by authorized bilingual workers or by using licensed interpreters and translators. Interpreter services may be conducted in person or over the telephone. Translation of DSHS forms, letters and other printed materials may be given or sent to you.

If you are a current DSHS client, your primary language is the language you have indicated on your application or your eligibility review as the language you wish to communicate in with DSHS.

You can have your concern reviewed by a supervisor or administrator who will respond to your concern as quickly as possible, but no later than 10 days of the date your concern is received. You also have the right to an administrative hearing which can be requested either verbally or in writing. Requesting a review of your case by a supervisor or administrator does not take away your right to have an administrative hearing. In addition to the above options, you can also call Constituent Services with your concerns at 1-800-865-7801 (or TTY at 7-1-1).

If you want to authorize another person or representative to receive records from your child support case, you may print a copy of the Authorization to Disclose Information (DSHS 17-063), fill it out, and send it to your DCS field office. If you want the other person or representative to only be able to discuss your case with DCS (and not ask for copies of records), you may print the Consent (DSHS 14-012), fill it out. And send it to your DCS field office.

You can contact the New Hire Reporting Program by phone, email, fax, or letter.

  1. On-Line -- Now you can see the most recent payment history for your child support case online! And, you can choose to receive e-mail notification when a payment is posted or a payment is due. Register here!
    Already registered? Click on CSIPS and login to see your case payments and choose e-mail notification.

  2. By Phone -- Using your DCS case number and your Social Security number, call 1-800-442-KIDS. You can find out:

    • How much DCS received.
    • When DCS received the payment.
    • Your account balance.
    • Bypass reception and transfer directly to your SEO's phone.
    • Listen to a message left for you.
    • Listen to most frequently asked questions.

Access is available most anytime of the day or night. (DCS conducts system maintenance work between Friday 6pm-3am Saturday. KIDS Line access is not available at that time.)

Learn more about the KIDS automated phone system.

 

The Division of Child Support (DCS) may give you the last-known home address of your dependent children or the home or work address of the other party to your child support case if you meet the following conditions:

  1. You must give us a written statement telling us why you want the address. The reason must be to enforce custody, visitation, parenting time, or contact rights, or to establish, enforce, or modify your child support order.

  2. If your reason for wanting the address is to enforce custody, visitation, parenting time, or contact rights, and you have not already done so, you must give us a certified copy of the court order that grants you the rights.

    1. The court order must name your children.

    2. You must give us a statement that a court has not changed your order to deny custody, or restrict your visitation, parenting time, or contact rights.

  3. You or your attorney must return an Address Disclosure Request to our field office listed below.

    1. You must appear at our field office listed below and show us suitable identification. If your attorney sends us the request, you do not have to appear.

    2. If you live outside Washington State or submit the request by mail, you must have the form notarized. If your attorney sends us the form, your attorney does not have to get the form notarized.

Before we give you the address, we will tell the other party to your child support case about your request. The other party has 30 days to:

  • Get a court order that stops us from giving you the address.
  • Get a court order that limits your right to visit or contact the other party or your children.
  • Request an adjudicative proceeding (hearing) to contest release of the address.

If the other party to your child support case does not ask for a hearing, we will answer your request within 45 days.

We will tell you if the other party asks for a hearing. You may attend and take part in the hearing. If we have reason to believe that release of the address will result in physical or emotional harm to the other party to your child support order or your children, we will not give you the address. Even if we decide not to release the address, we will still tell the other party to your child support order about your request.

You may print the Address Disclosure Request to request the address. Complete the form, sign it before a notary public, and mail it to:

Division of Child Support
P.O. Box 11520
Tacoma, WA 98411-5520

DCS will let you know if someone requests the address of your child. You have the right to request a hearing if you do not want the child's address released. You must take the following action to prevent DCS from releasing the address:

  • Get a court or tribal order preventing release of the address, or provide a copy of an existing order.
  • Request an administrative hearing to show why DCS should not release the address. DCS must follow the instructions of a final administrative order resulting from the hearing. DCS will not release the address until all appeal rights are exhausted.
  • If you receive a TANF grant, contact your public assistance caseworker and ask about claiming "Good Cause".
  • DCS will not release the residential address of a person enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program through the
    Secretary of State's Office.

Read about your child support case and Domestic Violence issues.

Learn more about Domestic Violence and Victim Services Programs.

DCS may release information from your DCS case for purposes of establishment, modification, or enforcement of a support order.

  • First contact your Support Enforcement Officer. Many records, such as a payment history, are immediately releasable.

  • To make a written request, print a Request for Disclosure of DSHS Records, fill it out, and send it to DCS.

  • You must indicate on the form exactly what information you seek and the reason for your request. DCS will respond to your request within 5 working days. When copies exceed 20 pages, DCS may ask you to pay for the cost of the copies.

If DCS cannot release the information we will send you a denial. You have the right to petition a review of the denial.

  • Respond to Part A, Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage by returning the Employer Response or by calling DCS.
  • If you serve as your own plan administrator, respond to Part B, Medical Support Notice to Plan Administrator by completing the Plan Administrator Response and the Washington State Addendum to Box 2 of Part B - Plan 

If you have questions about the National Medical Support Notice, you can get help in the following ways:

The majority of your DSHS business may be conducted online at Apply for Services, by calling the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-501-2233 or by visiting any local community services office near you. WorkFirst and Social Services must be conducted at your home office.