Frequently Asked Questions

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

The length of time depends on several things. Sometimes you can receive a child support payment within the first month after DCS takes collection action. The process can take longer if there is no child support order, the paying parent is on public assistance, has no assets, or lives in another state.

We try to process your application as quickly as possible. A lot depends on how soon we're able to get the information we need to determine if you're eligible. Generally, most food stamp and TANF cash benefits are processed within 30 days. Pregnancy medical is usually processed within 15 working days. Cases where information is needed from doctors, such as disability determinations, can take more than 45 days. You can help us by turning in requested information quickly.

If you get TANF now or received welfare (TANF, Tribal TANF, or AFDC) in the past, you can get services from DCS at no charge.

Starting in October 2007, DCS must charge a fee of $25 on cases where we collect and send out at least $500 of child support during a federal fiscal year for a custodial parent who never got TANF, Tribal TANF, or AFDC for any children (not just the ones currently in your household). The federal fiscal year runs from October first through September 30th. If you have a question about whether your case would be subject to a fee, ask DCS.

If the other parent lives in another state, the other state may charge a fee. You can contact DCS to find out if fees from another state apply in your case.

Child support withholding may not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's net disposable income.

"Disposable income" means gross earnings minus mandatory deductions, that is, those amounts required by law to be withheld, such as taxes.

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

If you object to the notice and want a hearing, do one of the following within the time limits listed above:

  • Complete the enclosed Objection/Request for Adjudicative Proceeding form. Return the completed form to the DCS address listed on the form.
  • Call the DCS office at the telephone numbers listed on page 9 and ask for a hearing. Use the toll-free telephone number for long distance calls only.

If you object to the notice, DCS may ask you to provide the following documents:

  • The completed Washington State Child Support Schedule worksheets.
  • Copies of your federal tax returns for the past two years.
  • A copy of your most recent pay stub.
  • A completed Statement of Resources and Expenses form (DSHS 18-097).

NOTE: Even if you agree with the terms in this notice, the other party to the case may ask for a hearing. If you or the other party asks for a hearing, you will receive notice of the date, time, and place of the scheduled hearing. If you do not attend and participate in a scheduled hearing, a support order may be issued with no input from you.

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).

After the children are enrolled, the plan administrator will notify you to withhold the premium from the employee's earnings.

If you are already set up to receive child support by direct deposit through DCS, the funds will process to that bank account within three days of disbursement.  If you do not have direct deposit, DCS will set you up with a U.S. Bank ReliaCard®, and the funds will process on to the card within three days of disbursement.

Physical abuse by one person against another is a crime. It also can force a parent to make difficult decisions about child support. Although the Division of Child Support (DCS) would like to collect the money owed to every family, the safety of the family must come first. The list below offers some options to consider when making decisions about child support in light of family violence.

You can tell the police

Harming another person is against the law. You can call your local police department and file a report. If you have left home and have to go back to retrieve clothes or belongings, you may ask the police to accompany you.

You can apply to participate in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)

The ACP assists victims of family violence who are relocating to avoid further abuse. It helps participants keep their home, work and/or school address secret by providing a substitute mailing address. ACP will:

  • Give you a substitute mailing address and help you use it.
  • Forward your first class mail from the substitute address to your home.
  • Assist you in getting many state and local agency services without revealing your address.
  • Help you vote or marry without having those records available to the public.

Find out about the ACP by calling 360-753-2972 or 1-800-822-1065, or go to

If you receive public assistance, you can get permission not to help collect child support

Generally, when you receive public assistance (either a cash grant or medical), the Division of Child Support opens a child support enforcement case and you are expected to help us establish and/or collect support. However, if you believe that establishing or enforcing child support will put you or the child in danger, you may claim "good cause" not to cooperate. The Community Services Office (CSO) will evaluate your claim and may decide that it is too dangerous even to open a child support case. You may claim Good Cause when you apply for assistance, or any time afterward. The public assistance office may decide that DCS should stop all establishment and enforcement action on your case, or they may decide that it is safe to continue. You have the right to a hearing on this decision. If good cause is granted, your case will be reviewed by the CSO on a regular basis to see if the danger continues.

If you do not receive public assistance, you can stop enforcement of the child support order

Nonassistance custodians can ask DCS to stop working their case. At your request, we will take no action to collect support owed to you. However, if the noncustodial parent owes any back support to Washington State, DCS will continue to collect these arrears. The custodian may request a Conference Board if the collection of arrears by DCS endangers the family. To stop enforcement of your case, contact your Support Enforcement Officer.

Does stopping enforcement mean the debt goes away?

If a child support order exists, the child support debt continues to accrue, even when DCS does not collect. In both public assistance and non assistance cases, asking DCS to stop collecting does not end the other parent's responsibility to pay child support. If a child support order exists, the noncustodial parent still owes that amount each month. Unpaid support is a debt that you may be able to collect later.

You can ask a court to grant a civil order of protection.

A court can order an offender to stay away from you or the children. A person violating a court order is subject to punishment by the court. Some county courts have a Domestic Violence Unit to help you through this process. Some can help you with filing the necessary documents to obtain an order of protection. Others have advocates to help you in court. Learn more about domestic violence from the Washington Violence Against Women Network.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions page.

DSHS has a domestic violence resource web page - Domestic Violence Services

DCS is governed by strict confidentiality rules. We have disclosed to you that your employee owes child support for the sole purpose of getting you to withhold from the employee's paycheck. We can't discuss any other details of the employee's case with you without the employee's written authorization. Click here to download a form your employee can sign giving DCS permission to share case information with you.

  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868
  • If DCS sends you an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support ( "OWI") for someone who used to work for you, check box #2 on the Answer form: "We do not employ or owe money to the parent." Please provide further information requested by the form, such as dates you employed this person, if you plan to rehire, is there a pending L&I claim, and where they are working now (if you know).
  • If you're expecting the employee to come back soon, please keep the OWI on file and start withholding when you can.

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

If DCS sends you an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support ( "OWI") for someone who never worked for you, please don't just ignore it. The OWI includes an Answer form: check box #2, "We do not employ or owe money to the parent."

  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868
  • Begin withholding immediately from any funds payable to the employee (also called the "obligor parent").
  • Complete the Answer to the OWI and return it to DCS within 20 days.
  • Continue withholding until DCS releases the notice in writing or you are ordered to stop by a court.
  • Send payment to the Washington State Support Registry (WSSR) within seven days of when you withheld from the employee's check.
  • If you fail to withhold under the OWI, you may have to pay the amounts that should have withheld.

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

Refer to "Cover Letter for the National Medical Support Notice - Part A-", Section #2:

  • Shows how much the employee has to pay for the children on that Notice.
  • Add the amount on each Notice together to get a total. This is the most the employee has to pay to cover only the children listed on the Notices.
  • If one NMSN has a set amount and another has no limit, the total is "no limit".
  • If the cost to enroll the children is more than the total premium limit, mark box 5 on the Employer Response and tell DCS the cost of the children's premium. (Example: Premium cost is $ ________.)

Yes, you can ask that the $35 fee be waived if you can prove that paying the fee would cause hardship to you, or your family. This request is called a conference board request, and relief will be granted only under limited circumstances.


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.

You assign your current support to the state while you are on TANF. The Department of Social and Health Services keeps the assigned child support it collects while your family receives TANF, except for pass-through payments. If DCS collects current support in an amount that exceeds the amount of your TANF grant for two months in a row, WAC 388-422-0030 provides that your cash benefit stops at the end of the third month. The state can only keep support collections up to the total amount of TANF funds your family receives, as provided in WAC 388-14A-2035. For more information about pass-through payments, click here.

No. The address you enter on this site is to identify your company for New Hire Reporting. To change your mailing address with the Employment Security Department call 360-902-9360.

When a non-custodial parent has more than one case with DCS, the law tells DCS how to split up a support payment between cases. It is based on a percent-of-total basis.

Current support is paid first. If a payment does not equal the total amount owed for all the non-custodial parent's cases, DCS divides the payment proportionately. Once current support for the month is paid, DCS applies amounts over current support to back support owed.

IRS tax refund intercept payments are an exception to this rule. These payments may only be applied to back support owed, and they are always applied to state debt owed before debt owed to the custodial parent.

Between October 1, 2008, and June 30, 2010, DCS applied IRS tax refund collections to both current support and arrears. These collections applied first to the debt owed to the custodial parent and then to state debt.

Beginning July 1, 2010, DCS applies tax-refund offset collections to debt as it did before October 1, 2008. This change back to the pre-October 2008 distribution rules is based on budget decisions made by the Washington State Legislature during the 2010 session.

Back support payments are also proportioned based on a percent of total. If you received public assistance in another state that has asked DCS to collect back support, that case will receive a percent of the back support payment. When DCS is providing payment processing services only (PSO) on one of the cases, the non-custodial parent must send payments and indicate that a payment is for the PSO case only. Otherwise, DCS will apply payments proportionately to the non-PSO cases.

Also please see Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility in FAQ question topics.

NO. The premium limit shown on the Notice applies only to the additional cost the employee has to pay for the children's coverage.

EXAMPLE: If the cost for the employee only coverage is $33 per month and the cost for the employee plus children is $85 per month then the cost for the children only is $52 per month. ($85 -$33 =$52). If the premium limit on the notice is $52 or more, you would have to enroll both the employee and the children.

NO. The premium limit shown on the Notice applies only to the additional cost the employee has to pay for the children's coverage.

EXAMPLE: If the cost for the employee only coverage is $33 per month and the cost for the employee plus children is $85 per month then the cost for the children only is $52 per month. ($85 -$33 =$52). If the premium limit on the notice is $52 or more, you would have to enroll both the employee and the children.

Many people who apply for TANF or medical assistance do not understand that they will automatically get child support services. This is very important to know, especially if you are a domestic violence victim.

The DSHS Division of Child Support (DCS) will open a child support case if you qualify for TANF or medical assistance and will make you help with your child support case. If you are a victim of domestic violence, and child support makes you nervous because it will put you in contact with your abuser, it is very important to read the following information.

Child support services can be a really good thing. The state of Washington can use its many tools to help your children get the money and resources they need now - and will need well into the future. You need to do very little. DCS will take over (at no cost or very low cost to you) to collect the child support owed to your children.

Child support can also be scary if you do not know how it works. We hope the answers to all the questions here will help you understand and feel more confident about using child support services.