Frequently Asked Questions

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

Based on current policy we cannot accept the signature of an attorney for full enforcement services. The request for full enforcement services must be made by one of the parties to the case.

Send Part B Medical Support Notice to Plan Administrator (including the Cover Letter and Washington State Addendum to Box 2) to the union's third party administrator. Check box 7 on the Employer Response form, enter the date Part B was sent, and send the Employer Response to DCS.

Yes. Per Washington State law employers must report the employee's date of birth.

Yes. Per Washington State law employers must report the employee's date of hire.

All reports require a Date of Hire no more than 1 year in the past and no more than 90 days in the future.

Yes. The employer must promptly notify DCS when the employee is no longer employed.

The employee is required to provide insurance coverage that is accessible to the child. Under the Revised Code of Washington and the Washington Administrative Code, "Accessible coverage" means health insurance coverage which provides primary care services to the children with reasonable effort by the custodian.

Do not enroll the child if the coverage is not accessible to the child. Notify DCS that the child cannot be enrolled and tell DCS why.

DCS does not require that the employee be moved to another plan because DCS has no way of knowing if the employee has a spouse and/or other children already covered on his/her current plan. Some plan administrators will make the employee change plans to one that will cover the child where the child lives when the employee is the only one on the plan. However, this decision is up to the individual plan administrator.

No matter what your employee may tell you, do not stop withholding under an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (OWI) until DCS releases the OWI in writing.

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

DCS will notify DOS through OCSE to release the passport if the noncustodial parent:

  1. Pays the debt in full
  2. Needs the passport for employment or deployment
  3. Has a family emergency

NOTE: Reasons 2 and 3 are not automatic releases.

Noncustodial parents requesting that their passports be released for employment or deployment must provide written verification from their employer (employment) or their commanding officer (deployment).

A family emergency is defined as a life or death situation involving an immediate family member. The federal government defines an immediate family member as:

  • Parent, guardian, or stepparent
  • Child or stepchild
  • Grandparent
  • Sibling or stepsibling
  • Aunt or uncle
  • Spouse

The noncustodial parent must provide verification in the form of a letter from either a doctor or hospital (on letterhead) or the Red Cross.

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.

YES. As long as the cost of the children's premium does not exceed the limit in the Notice and the current child support amount plus the cost of the premium for the employee and children does not exceed 50% of the employee's net disposable income.

  • If insurance IS available through a union, send Part B to the union's third party administrator.
  • If insurance IS NOT available through a union, check box 2 on the Employer Response form and send the response to DCS.

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

If you offer insurance for which the children are eligible, enroll the children, and complete the Washington State Addendum to Box2 of Plan Administrator Response form and the Plan Administrator response form. Return both forms to DCS within 40 business days after the date of the Notice.

  • When the employee is already enrolled, enroll the children in the same plan as the employee.
  • When the employee is not enrolled and there are multiple plans within the premium limit shown on the Notice that would cover the children, DCS will select the plan. Provide DCS the following information about each plan: description of the coverage, additional cost the employee would have to pay to cover the children and whether there is a limited service area for the plan.

Chapters 26.18, 26.23, and 74.20A RCW allow DCS to take collection actions even if the noncustodial parent is not behind in support payments. DCS may take the following actions, under the laws of the state of Washington or other states, at any time without further notice to the noncustodial parent:

  • To collect current support and past-due support, DCS may send the noncustodial parent's employer or other person or organizations holding assets for or income due to the noncustodial parent an Income Withholding for Support or Order to Withhold and Deliver.
  • To collect past-due support, DCS may also:
    • File liens against, seize, and sell part or all of the noncustodial parent's real estate, vehicles, or other real or personal property.
    • Turn the case over to a private collection agency.
    • Ask licensing authorities to suspend or not renew the noncustodial parent's driver's, hunting, fishing, recreational, professional, business, and occupational licenses.
    • Attach the noncustodial parent's bank accounts.
    • Refer the case to a Prosecuting Attorney for contempt proceedings.
    • Refer the case to a U.S. Attorney for criminal non-support.
    • Refer the case to the federal government to intercept any income tax refund or other payment owed to the noncustodial parent by the government, and to revoke or not issue or renew a U.S. passport.
    • Refer the case to credit reporting agencies.
    • Take other withholding actions as needed.
  • To enforce health insurance obligations, DCS may send a National Medical Support Notice to the obligated parent's employer or union. This notice requires the employer or union to enroll the child or children in an available health insurance plan and withhold the premiums from the parent's pay.
    • If the child or children listed on page 1 have Indian Health Services (IHS) available to them, that care satisfies health insurance requirements.
    • Even if the child or children are eligible for IHS, the obligated parent must still enroll the child or children in accessible insurance if it is provided by his or her employer at no cost.

NOTE: DCS recognizes Indian tribal sovereignty. If the parent is an employee of an Indian tribe, tribally-owned business, or Indian-owned business on a reservation, DCS may not serve the notices mentioned above. If the tribe has a process to do so, DCS will ask the tribal court to enforce this notice.

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).

A parent who is required to provide health insurance coverage (DCS calls this parent the "obligated parent") must notify both DCS and the other parent when coverage terminates.

If an obligated parent fails to enroll the child or children in privately accessible health insurance coverage or coverage available through the parent's employer or union, or if the parent's circumstances change, DCS may enforce the obligated parent's medical support obligations as provided in RCW 26.18.170. DCS may do one of the following, listed in order of priority:

  • Send a National Medical Support Notice pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 666(a)(19) to the employer or union requiring the employer or union to enroll the child or children in a health insurance plan as described in RCW 26.18.170(8).
  • Serve a Notice of Support Owed on the obligated parent requiring the parent to pay his or her proportionate share of a monthly premium being paid by the other parent for the child or children, not to exceed 25 percent of the obligated parent's basic child support obligation.
  • Serve a Notice of Support Owed on the obligated parent requiring the parent to contribute to his or her proportionate share of a monthly premium paid by the state, not to exceed 25 percent of the obligated parent's basic child support obligation, if the child or children receive state-financed medical coverage through the Department of Social and Health Services under Chapter 74.09 RCW for which there is an assignment.

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).

  • The WSCSS provides several limitations and deviations that may limit the amount of support that can be set in certain situations, such as:
    • When the parents' combined monthly net income is below $1,000, or when the paying parent's monthly net income is below the self support reserve of 125% of the federal poverty guideline for one person, then DCS sets support at the presumptive minimum obligation of $50 per month per child.
    • Except for the presumptive minimum obligation, a parent's support obligation should not reduce his or her monthly net income below the self-support reserve.
    • A parent's support obligation for all biological and legal children may not exceed 45% of his or her monthly net income.
  • In addition, DCS uses a method called the Whole Family Formula (WFF) when the noncustodial parent has other children to support in addition to the children for whom DCS is establishing a support order. The WFF calculates support based on all the children that the noncustodial parent has to support, either in or out of his or her household.
  • For details about why DCS applied a certain limitation or deviation in your case, see the WSCSS Worksheets which were attached to the notice you received.

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).

This section applies to you only if you have never legally named the father of your child or children."Establishing paternity" is the formal term for using the court system to name the legal father or for using the Acknowledgment of Paternity process to name the legal father.

There are some good reasons to establish paternity:

  • If the father dies or becomes disabled, your children may be eligible for Social Security or other dependent benefits,
  • The children may be able to inherit from the father or the father's family, and
  • Your children may have access to a more complete medical history.

If you are a domestic violence victim, the down side of establishing paternity is that it could open you and your children up to contact with the abuser. If you fear contact would be dangerous to you and your child, then you may want to be excused from the requirement to establish paternity. To do this when you get TANF or medical assistance, you must claim "good cause not to cooperate."

Be aware that the law allows the biological father of a child to claim paternity and ask the court to order paternity testing to see if he is, in fact, the father. You may want to consult an attorney to discuss your options. You can call the Northwest Justice Center's Coordinated Legal Education and Referral (CLEAR) line at 1-888-201-1014 for information.

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.