Frequently Asked Questions

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

All parties to the case have the right to file a petition in a state court or a tribal court (if eligible). The parties may do so at any time. If you file a petition in a court, you must serve notice of the action on the Prosecuting Attorney's office in the county where you file and on the other party to your child support case. You also must tell DCS of your action.

  • Proceeding in a court does not stop the notice from becoming a final order unless you get a court order that stops the DCS action.
  • Even if you want a court to set your support amount, you should still request a hearing on this notice within the required time limit.

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).

Do not attempt to provide legal advice. Encourage the parents to read the material and view the video. If parents still have questions, refer them to the child support office serving their area. The 1-800 number for a child support office near them is provided in the Establish Parentage for Your Child's Sake booklet. The booklet also provides information on attorney referral services through the Washington State Bar Association.

If You Disagree With the Notice

If you disagree with the notice and want to try to change the terms of the notice, you must object and/or ask for a hearing.

  • To object, contact your Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) or complete and return the Objection/Request for Hearing form which was included with the notice.
  • Contact your SEO with your concerns and attempt to resolve the issue. This can include anything from the amount of the proposed child support obligation, the proposed amount of arrears owed, or any other issue addressed in the notice.
  • You must object in a timely manner.
    • The noncustodial parent must object within 20 days of the date the notice was received. If the notice was served outside of Washington, the objection must be made within 60 days of the date received.
    • A custodial parent or physical custodian who disagrees with the notice must object within 20 days of the date the notice was received.
    • If the objection or request for a hearing is received by DCS within the time frames above, it will stay any collection actions until such time as a final administrative order is entered.
  • For more specific information, please refer to pages 4 and 5 of 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).

Legal immigrants are foreign-born people legally admitted to the U.S. Undocumented immigrants, also called illegal aliens, are foreign-born people who do not possess a valid visa or other immigration documentation, because they entered the U.S. without inspection, stayed longer than their temporary visa permitted, or otherwise violated the terms under which they were admitted.

The majority of services you receive from DSHS are now available online here: Apply for Services or via phone by contacting the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-501-2233.

If you are receiving TANF or Disability Lifeline (formerly General Assistance) benefits you may have a specific case worker and/or social worker. To reach your local office worker you may call the number provided by the person you wish to contact. If that person is not available, you have the option of leaving a message on voice mail or switching your call to another person. If the person you call does not return your call within 24 hours, or if your call does not go through, call 1-877-501-2233 to send a message to your worker.

DCS will provide current support services until the child emancipates, leaves the custodian's household, or goes to live with the non-custodial parent. DCS will continue to collect support arrears unless the parties reconcile.

If you want DCS to stop non-assistance services when support is still payable, you must send DCS a letter. DCS must provide payment processing services if the support order makes support payable through the Washington State Support Registry.

When DCS is unable to locate the non-custodial parent or the non-custodial parent's assets for three consecutive years, DCS may close your case. You will be notified if DCS intends to close your case. You have the right to appeal the closure.

Check box 7 on the Employer Response form, enter the date Part B was sent, and send the Employer Response to DCS.

  • DCS first sends a Noncompliance Warning letter to advise the party of the action to take to be in compliance with the inquiry, subpoena, withholding notice, or notice of enrollment.
  • If the party refuses to comply, DCS issues a Notice of Noncompliance. The Notice shows the amount of support owed by the non-complying party, the period for which it is owed, and any fines or penalties assessed for noncompliance.
  • The party has 20 days to comply or contact DCS to set up a payment agreement, or to request an adjudicative proceeding if they contest the amounts on the notice. DCS staff attempt to resolve the matter before holding the adjudicative proceeding.
  • If the party takes no action after receiving the Notice of Noncompliance, DCS will take enforcement action against the non-complying party's assets. This may include business license suspension.

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.

Assuming the cost of the children's premium does not exceed the limit shown on the Notice, the answer depends on whether or not the employer has to enroll just the children or enroll both the employee and the children.

When the employer has to enroll only the children, the cost of the children's premium plus the cash support amount cannot exceed the 50% limit. For example: The employee is already enrolled and paying a premium of $28. The additional cost to enroll the children is $46. The employer should enroll the children if the cash support amount plus the children's premium cost ($46) does not exceed 50% of the employee's net disposable income.

When the employer has to enroll both the employee and children, the cost of both the employee's and children's premium plus the cash support amount cannot exceed the 50% limit. For example: The employee is not enrolled. The cost to enroll the employee is $20.50. The additional cost to enroll the children is $39.50. The total for both is $60. The employer should enroll the employee and children if the cash support amount plus the employee's and children's premium cost ($60) does not exceed 50% of the employee's net disposable income.

When the children or the employee and children cannot be enrolled because the premium plus the cash support amount exceeds the 50% limit, check box 5 on the Employer Response form and send the form to DCS. DCS may call you when you mark box 5. To avoid a call, you are welcome to note on the form that the cash support plus the premium would exceed the 50% withholding limit. If the plan administrator has already added the children to the plan, contact the plan administrator to tell them the children cannot be added.

The Division of Child Support will continue to send you pass-through payments for collections it receives before May 1, 2011. The last day a collection can be received for DCS to send you a pass-through payment is April 30, 2011.


Important Notice To Custodial Parents Receiving Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF):

Between October 1, 2008, and April 30, 2011, federal and state law allowed the Division of Child Support (DCS) to send a portion of child support collections to a custodian of minor children while the custodian received a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grant. This amount of child support paid to custodians who received TANF during this period was called a child support pass-through payment. Effective May 1, 2011, Washington State law suspends pass-through payments. DCS must stop sending pass-through child support payments to custodial parents receiving TANF for any collections received by DCS on or after May 1, 2011.

If you have questions, or you would like additional information about the suspension of child support pass-through payments, please refer to the following Frequently Asked Questions, or call the KIDS general information line at 1-800-442-KIDS (800-442-5437).

The IRS sends payments to DCS about six weeks after the filing of the tax return. Either the noncustodial parent or the joint-return spouse may request an IRS administrative review to contest attachment. DCS must hold the IRS funds awaiting the hearing decision.


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.

Click here to read the Division of Child Support's Privacy Notice.

    


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

Information about the program, reporting options, and how to contact the New Hire Reporting Program is available at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/node/186#options.

The state where the child support case originated is responsible for collecting the fee. This is typically the state where the custodian lives.


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.

Call 1-800-442-KIDS (5437) to obtain the phone number of a DCS office near where you live. You may consult an attorney. You may call toll free at 1-800-945-WSBA to find out if there is a lawyer referral service in your county. Low income people may qualify for reduced cost legal assistance. To find more about reduced cost legal assistance, call the King County Bar Association at 206-623-2551 if you live within King County. If you live outside of King County, call the CLEAR LINE AT 1-888-201-1014.

Each DSHS Community Services Office (CSO) or call center has its own process for asking if child support services will pose any danger to you or your children. Find out about your local office's process.

If you are getting ready to go to your local CSO, bring all documentation that will help you explain why child support services will be dangerous. If you have a protection order, police records, medical reports, or any other documentation of your abuse, bring these along. If you do not have these documents, you can write and sign a statement outlining why you are afraid for your safety if DSHS begins child support services.

If you are afraid for your safety or the safety of your children, don't wait for someone to ask. Ask to talk to a social worker or with a domestic violence victim advocate before you disclose information about the other parent. Find out about child support and good cause not to cooperate with DCS.

Take all the opportunities DSHS workers give you to tell them your fears and concerns about collecting child support. Never assume that because you told one worker about your risks that a different worker also knows.

If no one gives you an opportunity to talk about your fears, click here to view the DSHS good cause form. Complete the form, take it with you to the DSHS office and ask to talk to a social worker. If that person does not help you, talk to someone else.

REMEMBER: Ignoring child support will not make it go away. As complicated as your life may be, do not ignore mail that asks you to take actions about your child support. If you do not understand a letter, call the person listed in the letter. If you are afraid for your safety, be sure to open and respond as best you can to all mail you get from DSHS.

To check your balance, reset your PIN or report a lost/stolen EBT card, call the EBT Vendor at 1-888-328-9271.

You may contact the Medicaid Purchasing Administration's Customer Service Center at 1-800-562-3022. (or TTY at 1-800-848-5429) or online at Washington State Medicaid Customer Service.

All employers doing business in the United States.