Frequently Asked Questions

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

As long as you get TANF or medical assistance, DSHS will contact you about every six months to review your good cause claim. It is very important that you stay aware of your good cause status and that you clearly tell DSHS if you are still afraid or if your circumstances have changed.

If you are still afraid, make sure your worker understands you are afraid and verifies that your good cause claim remains approved. If your worker changes or stops your good cause claim, and you disagree, talk with your worker's supervisor. You may also ask for a fair hearing.

If your circumstances change, or if those of your abuser change, you may decide that it is relatively safe now to collect child support. You can withdraw your good cause claim and DCS can begin collecting support. Talk to your DSHS worker if you want to withdraw your good cause claim.

After you no longer get TANF or medical assistance, DCS will keep your case at Good Cause Level A or Good Cause Level B, and DSHS will never contact you directly to review your good cause status again unless you reopen your TANF or medical assistance case.

When DCS initiates collection action an employer or business has twenty days to answer the Notice of Payroll Deduction or Order to Withhold and Deliver. The employer or business has seven days to send the withheld support to DCS. The law requires DCS to send the Custodial Parent support within two working days after receipt.

When an employer refuses to cooperate with a withholding action, DCS may have to begin noncompliance action against the employer. We start the formal action by sending a Notice of Noncompliance to the employer. This additional legal process can take an additional month or more. For more information refer to the Employer and Income Withholding Information page on the DCS web site.


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

When DCS initiates collection action an employer or business has twenty days to answer the Notice of Payroll Deduction or Order to Withhold and Deliver. The employer or business has seven days to send the withheld support to DCS. The law requires DCS to send you support within two working days after receipt.

For your convenience, DCS can send your payments as direct deposits to your bank account. Click here to download copy of the Direct Deposit 22-078 brochure that includes the authorization form. For more information regarding direct deposit contact our EFT Customer Service Unit at 1-800-468-7422.

When an employer refuses to cooperate with a withholding action, DCS may have to begin noncompliance action against the employer. We start the formal action by sending a Notice of Noncompliance to the employer. This additional legal process can take an additional month or more. For more information refer to the Employer and Income Withholding Information page on the DCS web site.

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.

There are four ways to establish parentage.

(1) Marriage. If the mother and biological father decide to marry before the child is born, the marriage may create what is called a presumption of parentage. Unless a parent or some other interested party later challenges that presumption, the man will be considered the legal father of the child.

(2) Registered Domestic Partnership. If the mother was in a registered domestic partnership during the pregnancy, the registered domestic partnership may create what is called a presumption of parentage. Unless a parent or some other interested party later challenges that presumption, the registered domestic partner is the legal parent of the child.

(3) Paternity Acknowledgment. The Paternity Acknowledgment is a legal form. The man who signs the form will be considered the legal father after the form is signed, notarized, and filed at the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics (DOH/CHS).

(4) Court Order. The court may determine if a person is the legal parent of a child. The court may require a genetic test of the mother, child, and a man alleged to be the biological father.

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).

Description of Materials

You will need the following materials to provide parents the opportunity to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment.

  • The Paternity Acknowledgment (DOH/CHS 021) is available in English and Spanish. On the lower left hand corner of the instruction page you will find the form number and the latest revision date. You should be using the July 2011 revision.
  • The Establish Parentage for Your Child's Sake booklet (DSHS 22-586). The booklet is currently available in English and Spanish.
  • The Invoice Voucher (DSHS A19-1A) is necessary for you to bill DCS for the $20 reimbursement for services.
  • The short video which explains the benefits, rights, responsibilities, and legal consequences of signing the acknowledgment is available in English and Spanish
  • The booklet entitled "Division of Child Support Voluntary Paternity Testing Program" (DSHS 22-1443) is available beginning July 2011 for participating hospitals. This booklet replaces the booklet entitled "Bright Start: How to Get a Genetic Test" (DSHS 22-959).

    Easy Ordering

    You may order all of above material quickly and easily.

    To order materials, click here.

    Complete the on-line order form and submit it to DCS. You may also order materials by calling (360)664-5316. You will receive your order within 7-10 working days.

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

The $25 fee will be deducted from your child support after the first $500 has been disbursed to you in the federal fiscal year (October 1st through September 30th). There is no need for you to make or send in a fee payment.


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

Beginning October 1, 2007, federal law provides that certain child support cases are subject to a $25 fee each year. Washington law provides that this fee will be paid by the custodial parent. The $25 fee will be withheld from child support payments that are made on the case, but only after $500 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 $25 fee please refer to the following links, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS.

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 http://www.secstate.wa.gov/acp/.

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 $ ________.)

You may not receive services in two states at the same time. You must close your benefits in the state you are leaving. If possible, obtain a letter stating your benefits have ended. After you move you can Apply for Services online, contact our customer service center at 1-877-501-2233 or visit any local community services office.

  1. If your support order tells you to send payments to the Washington State Support Registry or you received a notice from DCS to send your payments to WSSR, send your payments to the following address:
    Washington State Support Registry
    PO Box 45868
    Olympia, WA 98504-5868

    To insure accurate processing, please be sure your Social Security Number is clearly noted on your payment.
  2. For your convenience, DCS offers Electronic Funds Transfer - EFT options for paying child support. A non-custodial parent can register and make payments using the Division of Child Support Internet Payment Service. To register or view a demo, visit our web site at http://www.dcsonline.dshs.wa.gov.

  3. Click here to obtain an authorization form. An EFT deduction or Internet Payment cannot replace federally mandated wage withholding. If your case requires DCS to establish wage withholding, we will continue to do so. For more information regarding EFT, please contact our EFT Customer Service Unit at 1-800-468-7422.

  4. If you receive a notice from another state to send your support payments to their child support agency, contact the other state. Be sure to tell them if you are currently sending your payments to WSSR. They will tell you where to send your future child support payments.

  5. Send payments as directed by your support order unless you received a notice from a child support agency to send payments to them.

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