Frequently Asked Questions

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

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.

A refugee is a person who is unable to return to their home country because of persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Other individuals who are eligible for services on the same basis as refugees include: persons granted asylum; certain Amerasians from Vietnam; Cuban/Haitian entrants; Iraqi and Afghani special immigrants; and victims of human trafficking.

Families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Children or Medicaid automatically receive DCS services. You qualify to receive DCS non-assistance services if you are not currently receiving services from another state and any one of the following statements applies to you:

  1. I am a parent who has custody of a minor child.
  2. I am a lawful custodian of a minor child.
  3. I am a former custodian who is owed child support that accrued under a support order.
  4. I am the father of the child and want to establish the paternity of my child.
  5. I am the non-custodial parent of a child and want to pay support.
  6. I am due court ordered post-secondary educational support for a child in school.

If both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent live outside Washington, the non-custodial parent must have some tie to Washington State, such as, a Washington support order, a Washington-based employer, or assets located in Washington. If there is no tie to Washington, apply for services in the state where where one of the parents live.

Both the noncustodial parent and the custodial parent are responsible for certain costs. DCS may have included one or more of these costs in calculating the current child support obligation. Costs are shared by both parents based on their proportionate share of the basic child support obligation. DCS may serve a Notice of Support Owed to establish the amount a parent owes for costs if these costs were not included in the calculation of the basic financial obligation. These costs may include:

  • Health care costs. Both parents are obligated to pay their share of health care costs based on their proportionate share of income. Health care costs include, but are not limited to, medical, dental, orthodontia, vision, chiropractic, mental health treatment, prescription medications, and other similar costs for care and treatment. They may include uninsured medical expenses, copayments, and deductibles for the child or children. They may include the parent's proportionate share of a medical insurance premium in excess of the amount being enforced by DCS through service of a Notice of Support Owed because the medical premium share is limited to 25 percent of the basic child support obligation.
  • Daycare 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).

The plan administrator is the person designated to enroll employees and their dependents in insurance plans. Employers can:

  • Contract with a private company to handle enrollments
  • Have a benefits office within their company that handles enrollments. OR
  • Handle the enrollments themselves.

When the employees have health insurance benefits through a union, the union's third party administrator is the plan administrator. The third party administrator generally handles premium Payments.

Any person or organization who offers unmarried parents an opportunity to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment should read and follow this guide. Federal regulation (45 CFR 303.5) and state law (RCW 70.58.080) require physicians, midwives, hospitals and birth records agencies to provide unmarried parents an opportunity to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. Other individuals or organizations such as birthing clinics, social service organizations, and educational institution may participate voluntarily.

WAC 388-14A-4605

  1. If the child's custodial parent (CP) requests DCS to post the NCP to the DCS most wanted internet site (also called the "site"), the CP must:
    1. Have an open full support enforcement services case with DCS;
    2. Give written permission to DCS to post the NCP on the site; and
    3. Provide a photograph of the NCP.
  2. Only the NCP's photograph appears on the site. If the CP submits a group photograph, DCS edits out everyone except the NCP.
  3. DCS may post an NCP to the site when the NCP has made no payments in at least six months (intercepted IRS refunds are not considered to be payments for purposes of this section) and owes at least five thousand dollars in back child support.
  4. DCS may post an NCP to the site when DCS has been unable to locate the NCP after trying other means for at least twelve months, and:
    1. There is a valid support order; or
    2. There is a valid paternity affidavit filed for a child on the case, or
      1. The NCP is:
      2. The presumed father under RCW 26.26.320.The mother of the child(ren) on the case; or
  5. If the NCP has more than one open DCS case, all custodial parents must provide written consent to the posting.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 26.23.120(2) and 74.08.090. 06-03-026, § 388-14A-4605, filed 1/6/06. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.09034.05.310(4)(d) and 26.23.120(2). 03-20-072, § 388-14A-4605, filed 10/30/03. Statutory Authority: RCW 26.23.120(2), 74.08.090. 01-24-083, § 388-14A-4605, filed 12/3/01, effective 1/3/02; 01-03-089, § 388-14A-4605, filed 1/17/01, effective 2/17/01. Formerly WAC 388-11-325.]

This change back to how DCS applied tax-refund offset collections before October 2008 is based on the budget decisions made by the Washington State Legislature during the 2010 session.


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.

Per federal law, 22 CFR 52.70(a)(8), passports are denied and/or revoked for any individual who is more than $2500 in arrears in their child support obligation.

The noncustodial parent is notified in the IRS pre-offset notice that the Department of State (DOS) through the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) will deny issuance or renewal of their passport when their child support debt reaches $2500.

Once the threshold of $2500 has been reached, the denial/revocation will remain in place until the debt is paid in full or is exempted by DCS. NOTE: Effective October 1, 2006 the threshold for passport denial/revocation will be lowered to $2500.


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.

Federal law now requires child support agencies to collect a $25 fee in certain "never-assistance" cases beginning October 1st. This is part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 passed by Congress and signed by the President. It is an effort by Congress to reduce the federal cost of funding state child support programs. The Washington law is found in Section 5 of SSB 5244 (Chapter 143, Laws of 2007).


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.

Due to budgetary concerns, the Washington State Legislature passed SSB 6893 in the special session held at the end of 2010. This law suspends pass-through payments for collections received on or after May 1, 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).

No collection action will be taken on a PSO case. Collection actions, including payroll deductions, license suspensions, bank freezes, liens, credit bureau reporting, IRS intercepts and contempt proceedings will only be taken on full enforcement cases.

When DCS establishes a support order, DCS always includes a medical support provision requiring the non-custodial parent and custodial parent to provide medical insurance when available through an employer or union.

  • If you have a support order with a medical support provision, DCS may enforce medical support along with child support. You must apply for DCS services if you want DCS to enforce the other parent's medical support obligation.
  • If your support order does not require medical support, DCS may be able to help you get that order modified to include an insurance requirement. Please note: A request to add a requirement for the custodial parent to provide health insurance coverage, or to add a provision in the order to include the custodial parent's share of medical expenses, is not by itself a sufficient basis for modification of the order.

DCS may collect unreimbursed medical expenses that meet certain threshold and time limit requirements. DCS does not collect unreimbursed medical expenses owed to a third party.

Your case will qualify for a $25 fee each year when at least $500 is disbursed in your case between October 1st and September 30th, but only if you have never received TANF, Tribal TANF, or AFDC as a custodian of a child.


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.

Yes, federal law requires that the noncustodial parent receive full credit for the support payment made even though a fee may be deducted from the support that you receive. (For example, if $500 has already been sent to the custodian and the next payment made is $100, the noncustodial parent will receive credit for a payment of $100, but the custodian will receive only $75).


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.