Frequently Asked Questions

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

If DSHS approves your good cause claim, then one of two things will happen:

When DSHS grants good cause, it does not stop the child support debt owed by the other parent from growing. If there is a support order, the amount owed each month will continue to add up during the entire period good cause is in effect. This is especially important to know for the future.

If DSHS grants your good cause claim, but your good cause ends later, DCS will send the other parent notice of the debt owed.

How do you think the other parent is going to react to receiving a notice of debt from DCS? This is an important question to ask as part of ongoing safety planning for survivors faced with this type of situation.

  1. DCS will close your case without taking any further action (this is called Good Cause Level A).
    Or
  2. DCS will continue to work on your case, but they will not make you help in any way and you cannot get into any trouble for not cooperating (this is called Good Cause Level B).

    When DSHS grants good cause, it does not stop the child support debt owed by the other parent from growing. If there is a support order, the amount owed each month will continue to add up during the entire period good cause is in effect. This is especially important to know for the future.

    If DSHS grants your good cause claim, but your good cause ends later, DCS will send the other parent notice of the debt owed.

    How do you think the other parent is going to react to receiving a notice of debt from DCS? This is an important question to ask as part of ongoing safety planning for survivors faced with this type of situation.

If DSHS denies your good cause claim, you can ask for a fair hearing to challenge that decision. DCS does not work on your case while DSHS is making a decision about your good cause claim.

However, once the decision to deny your good cause claim is final (or if you withdraw your good cause claim), DCSwill work the case and expect you to cooperate. If you still refuse to give information or otherwise help with your child support case, DSHS may reduce or stop your TANF benefits, or you may put your medical assistance at risk.

If DSHS denies your good cause claim, you have the option to not get TANF and medical assistance, or to withdraw your application for assistance.

However, if you got TANF before DSHS denied your good cause claim, even if you withdrew your TANF application because of the denial, DSHS will still try to collect child support owed for the period when you got TANF.

If this contact would cause danger to you, it is very important that you talk with a social worker, or ask for a fair hearing to try to get your good cause claim approved.

If you believe that establishing paternity or collecting child support would put you or your child in danger, you may think that you can just avoid giving information when DSHS employees ask you about the other parent. However, this may not be the best strategy, and could get you into trouble.

If you do not cooperate with DCS, DSHS may reduce your TANF grant. If you lie or provide false information on your assistance application, you may open yourself to a charge of perjury (lying under oath).

The good cause process is there to protect you. If you do not understand how the process works, ask your worker at the community services office (CSO). If that person does not know the answer to your questions, ask someone else.

If you do not take active steps to have DSHS excuse you from helping DCS collect child support, DCS will open a child support case immediately and will pursue payments and health coverage from the other parent.

Because DCS has lots of technology and dedicated support enforcement officers, they may be able to find the other parent even if you give them very little or no information at all about that person. If this contact could cause you harm, you must take active steps to protect yourself.

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.

Even though you are a victim of domestic violence, the DCS may enforce a child support obligation against you if there is an order for support or if the other parent asks DCS to establish an administrative support order.

Be sure to read the section above about release of address information. If you are the noncustodial parent and you believe it would be harmful or dangerous if the other parent got your address, be sure to ask for notice before DCS releases your address.

  • If you provide sufficient documentation, DCS may be able to deny any request for your address without going through the notice and hearing process.
  • Even if you have given this information to another part of DSHS, be sure to provide this information to DCS as soon as possible!

    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).

    If this happens to you, contact a social worker in your CSO immediately to talk about your concerns. If your social worker does not help you, talk to the social worker's supervisor.

    If you still feel that you are in danger, you can ask for a fair hearing. A fair hearing is simply telling your story to an objective administrative law judge who can make changes in your case.

    All of these processes are in place to make sure you have options to stay safe from your abuser while you need to be on TANF and medical assistance. We want you to speak up for yourself and use these processes.

    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.

    Anyone can apply for child support. You do not have to get TANF or medical assistance to get services from DCS. If you have concerns about whether child support services may lead to harm for you or your children, contact DCS at any time.

    Talk with a support enforcement officer about your safety options, which could include closing your case. If you do not get public assistance, you may choose to close your case at any time, for any reason.

    • You can't give DCS more than 50% of the employee's net disposable income each payday.
    • If the withhold amount exceeds 50%, just send in 50%.
    • If this is the first time you are withholding from this employee, use the Answer to the OWI to tell DCS that you can't withhold the full amount of the OWI this payday.
    • Remember, the OWI gives you a monthly amount to withhold. Once you reach that amount, you can stop withholding for the month.

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

    The employee may contest the withholding under the Notice, based on a mistake of fact, by contacting DCS. The employer must continue to withhold the premiums until notified by DCS to discontinue withholding.

    The employer has an obligation to comply with the Notice until they receive a Release terminating the medical withholding. The employee should contact DCS immediately and provide proof of coverage.

    The plan administrator or employer may complete the Washington State Addendum to Box 2 of Part B - Plan Administrator Response or provide any preprinted information that provides the insurance information. DCS needs the insurance company name, address, telephone number, and the employee's policy or member number, and group number. For federal audit purposes, DCS must have the employee's insurance information in the DCS case files.

    DCS uses a Conference Board to resolve grievances when an administrative hearing is unavailable. Child support laws are very complex and sometimes inflexible. If you feel aggrieved by a DCS action or dissatisfied with an employee, please read the following. It may explain why DCS took an action on your case.

    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.


    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.

    • A Medical support obligation includes the following:
      • Health insurance coverage, and
      • Cash medical support (RCW 26.09.105), which consists of:
        • A parent's monthly payment toward the premium paid for coverage by either the other parent or the state, which represents the obligated parent's proportionate share of the premium paid, but not more than twenty-five percent of the obligated parent's basic support obligation; and
        • A parent's proportionate share of uninsured medical expenses.
    • Under appropriate circumstances, the order may excuse one parent from the responsibility to provide health insurance coverage or the monthly payment toward the premium.
    • The order must always require both parents to contribute their proportionate shares of uninsured medical expenses.

    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 Payment Services Only (PSO) case is a case which is set up when a child support order is entered that requires all child support payments be made to the Washington State Support Registry (WSSR). No collection actions will be taken to enforce the order. A PSO case is only set up to process voluntary payments and provide a permanent record of payments made through our system.