Frequently Asked Questions

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

If you are already receiving benefits, you need to notify us of this change by calling our customer service center at 1-877-501-2233. If you are in need of medical coverage, you can Apply for Services online or visit any local community services office.

You may complete an application online for most DSHS benefits here: Apply for Services. To apply for Working Connections Child Care services or to request an application for benefits you may call the Statewide Customer Service Center at 1-877-501-2233. For your convenience you have the option to visit your local community services office to access online and phone services to apply for benefits. You can view more information at How to Apply for Services.

Click here to try out the on-line Automated Child Support Worksheets.

First decide which application package below fits your circumstances and then download all of the associated forms for that selection.

Mail your completed application to the following address:

Division of Child Support
Central Services
P.O. Box 11520
Tacoma, Washington 98411-5520

Once you send in your application, send any child support payments you receive to the Washington State Support Registry. DCS must have a physical record of all payments made by the non-custodial parent. Send one application for each noncustodial parent.

I am a Custodial Parent with a Child Support Order
Download, complete and send to DCS, all of the following forms:

  • 18-078 Application for Nonassistance Support Enforcement Services
  • 14-057 Child Support Enforcement Referral
  • 18-433 Declaration of Support Payments
  • 16-072 Nonassistance Support Enforcement Information

I am a Custodial Parent without a Child Support Order
Download, complete and send to DCS, all of the following forms:

If you want DCS to establish or enforce a child care obligation with a child support obligation, please also download, complete and return the following form and proof of payment:

I am a Noncustodial Parent with a Child Support Order
Download, complete and send to DCS, all of the following forms:

  • 14-057b Noncustodial Parent Child Support Enforcement Application
  • 16-107 Noncustodial Parent's Rights and Responsibilities

I am a Noncustodial Parent without a Child Support Order
Download, complete and send to DCS, all of the following forms:

I just want the Child Support Schedule Worksheets or instructions

You can also get an application at any one of the nine DCS field offices or by contacting the DCS office nearest to you.

Expect an application within five days of your telephone request. If there is no support order and both parents live in Washington, be sure to ask for a copy of the Washington State Child Support schedule too.

You can become a certified translator if you are able to pass the required DSHS written translation examination or pass a DSHS recognized written translation examination offered by another organization. Both examinations are offered by DSHS Language Testing and Certification Program.

  • Compute the gross amount that you owe to the employee for the pay period.
  • If the employee took any advances, add those amounts back in.
  • Deduct the amounts that are required by law, such as IRS income taxes, FICA, Social Security and L&I. If union membership or pension contribution is mandatory, deduct union dues and/or pension amounts.
  • Do not deduct such amounts as car Payments, non-mandatory union dues, or voluntary savings deposits.
  • The amount remaining is the employee's net disposable income. Now divide that amount by two, and that's the amount that is subject to withholding.
  • After withholding the child support amount, go on and deduct any other amounts that you normally deduct from the employee's paycheck. These "voluntary deductions" are not subject to the 50% limit.

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

The Income Withholding for Support tells you how much to withhold each month.

  • If you pay once a month, withhold that amount (unless it's more than 50% of the employee's net disposable income) from each paycheck
  • If you pay more than once a month, here's how to calculate the amount from each check: for each month, divide the monthly withhold amount by the number of paychecks for that month, then withhold that much from each check.
  • If the OWI asks you to withhold a certain percentage of the employee's earnings, withhold that percentage amount each payday.

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

DCSOnline Services processes new hire reports at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) each day. You can edit or cancel an online report until the system has processed it.

  1. Select View, Change, or Cancel Pending New Hire Report from the menu..
  2. To change one report, click Edit or Cancel.
  3. To cancel all reports for one company, or all fixed width reports, click Cancel All Pending.

If the report has already been processed, you will need to re-submit the new hire with the correct information.

Custody and visitation issues are usually addressed in a legal document called a Parenting Plan. Regardless of whether parentage was established through marriage, a registered domestic partnership, acknowledgment, or the courts, only the courts may address legal custody and visitation issues. Therefore, a parentage action must be filed with a court. Often parents can agree on parenting plans by consulting with a mediator or court facilitator. Parents will still need to file the plan with the court. Contact your county court facilitator or other legal resources for further information.

What are the advantages to signing a Paternity Acknowledgment?

The Paternity Acknowledgment is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to legally establish paternity. It should be used only when both the man and the mother are sure that the man is the only possible father of the child.

What if the mother was married to another man or in a registered domestic partnership?

If the mother was married to another man during the pregnancy or in a registered domestic partnership, the man who claims to be the father may sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. However, the mother's husband or registered domestic partner must also agree. The presumed parent (mother's husband or registered domestic partner) must sign a Presumed Parent's Denial of Paternity or the Paternity Acknowledgment will not be valid. Both the acknowledgment and the denial must be filed with DOH.

Where can I sign a Paternity Acknowledgment?

Most parents sign the acknowledgment form at a birthing hospital, a birthing clinic, or at home under the care of a midwife shortly after the child is born. A hospital, midwife, or birthing clinic staff person will help you complete the form if necessary, answer questions, and submit the paperwork to DOH. Most hospitals, midwives, and birthing clinics can also notarize the form for you. If you sign within five days of your child's birth, you will not need to pay a fee to file the acknowledgment form. If you do not sign at the hospital, you may obtain the Paternity Acknowledgment form at your local county health department or any Division of Child Support (DCS) office. You may also call DCS at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437). Ask the receptionist to send you an acknowledgment form. DCS will mail you the form and an informational booklet without charge. Both parents will need to sign and have their signatures notarized. You may send the form directly to DOH along with the filing fee. If you need help completing the form, any DCS office can assist you.

How may I obtain a copy of my Paternity Acknowledgment after it has been filed at the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)?

The Paternity Acknowledgment is filed at DOH and becomes the official record. If you file an action in court to challenge or rescind the acknowledgment, you will need a certified copy from DOH. To obtain the certified copy you will need to provide proof of your identity and pay a fee. The fee is $35 as of July 23, 2007. You can call DOH at 360-236-4300 and verify if a paternity acknowledgment is on file prior to making a request.

What are my legal rights when I sign a Paternity Acknowledgment?

Federal law requires you to receive both written and oral information about your rights and responsibilities when you sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. A statement of your rights and responsibility is on the back of the Paternity Acknowledgment form. It is very important that you read that statement. You can hear the oral information by viewing a short video which is available at the hospital, birth clinic, your local health department and any DCS office, or you may call the toll free number 1-800-356-0463. Someone may also read the statement to you. Do not sign the form until you have received and understood both the written and oral information

Can I sign the Acknowledgment even if I am under age 18?

In most cases a person under 18 years of age is considered a minor. Effective June 13, 2002, a Paternity Acknowledgment signed by a minor is valid. Minors who sign the acknowledgment form will be held to the same standard as adults except for an extended period for rescission.

Can I change my mind if I sign a Paternity Acknowledgment?

Either parent who signs a Paternity Acknowledgment may change his or her mind within a limited period of time. The legal term is called a rescission. To rescind a signature, you must initiate a court action within no more than 60 days after the Paternity Acknowledgment is filed at DOH. If either signatory was a minor when the Paternity Acknowledgment was signed, the person who was a minor must file a court action to rescind the acknowledgment on or before that person's 19th birthday. If the court grants the rescission, DOH will remove the man's name from the birth certificate.

What if I change my mind more than 60 days after I sign the Paternity Acknowledgment?

After the rescission period, a challenge to the acknowledgment may be filed in court for limited reasons up to 4 years after the acknowledgment is filed with DOH. You will need to prove in Superior Court that you signed the form as a result of fraud, duress, or factual mistake. If you file a court action after 2 years but before 4 years, the child must be made a party to the action. A guardian ad litem will be appointed.

What if I am not sure I want to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment?

You should sign the Paternity Acknowledgment only if you are sure that you are the biological parent of the child. If you have further questions, you may call DCS at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437). You may want to consult an attorney. If you decide not to sign the acknowledgment, you may ask the court to establish paternity.

Do I need to have a genetic test?

The Paternity Acknowledgment form will ask the father to affirm whether or not he has submitted to genetic testing. The father does not need to have a genetic test in order to sign the form, but he may choose to do so at his expense. A genetic test compares many different factors in the DNA of the father, mother and child. A genetic laboratory will issue a report which explains whether the man is the likely biological father. If paternity is established through the court, the court will likely require a genetic test if there is more than one possible father.

When should paternity be established in court?

Usually, it is best to establish paternity through the courts if there is any question about the identity of the father. For example, if the mother believes there is more than one possible father. There may be other reasons also. If either the man or the woman is unsure about signing the acknowledgment or the woman's husband or registered domestic partner is unwilling to sign a denial, then establishing paternity in court may be the best option.

How do I open a parentage case in court?

Often the state can help establish parentage for your child if you apply for services with DCS. If DCS accepts your case, DCS will usually refer your case to a county prosecuting attorney. The county prosecutor acts on behalf of your child and cannot represent you in court or give you legal advice. The prosecutor can answer general questions about your parentage case.

How is parentage established in court?

If the state is trying to establish parentage, a county prosecutor will usually serve legal papers upon the possible father or fathers. Often, the prosecutor or the court will require the mother, possible father(s), and the child to submit to genetic tests. The court will enter an order establishing parentage.

Are there costs to establish parentage in court?

If the prosecutor is establishing parentage in court on a DCS case, you will not be charged a filing fee. However there may be other costs associated with establishing parentage in court. If a man is determined to be the father he may be ordered to pay the costs of genetic tests or other court costs.

If you have a case with Washington's Division of Child Support, and your support order contains no medical support provision, you may request DCS modify the order to include medical.

To ask DCS to review your order:

  1. Print the following forms:
  2. Complete the forms as required, and mail them to your child support office.
  3. DCS will request worksheets from the other party. (This process may take more than 30 days from the time DCS receives your information.)

If DCS is not enforcing your child support or you want to modify your order without a DCS review:

  • Contact your attorney to modify the order, or
  • You may do it yourself, by using the "Pro Se" method.

Packets are available at any DCS office. Some counties have court facilitators to assist you.

If you do not have a case with DCS, but you want DCS to review your order, you may apply for full collection services and request a review for modification. Is there already a child support order?

If DCS is enforcing your child support order, you may ask DCS to review your order to see if a modification is appropriate, or you may petition for modification without DCS's help.

You also may make a motion for a temporary order to reduce your support obligation in circumstances such as a temporary layoff. Forms to petition to modify or request a temporary order are available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/. To ask DCS to review your order:

Review

  1. Print the following forms:
  2. Complete the forms as required, and mail them to your child support office.
  3. DCS will request worksheets from the other party. (This process may take more than 30 days from the time DCS receives your information.)

DCS will review your support order for modification using the following criteria:

  • DCS must have jurisdiction over the order or acquire it by registration of the order. If another state has jurisdiction over your support order, contact that state directly to request adjustment. Otherwise, DCS may refer the case to that state for modification.

The amount of change must be:

  • At least $100 and at least a 25% change up or down, or

  • An increase in current support of less than $100 would
    allow your family to stop receiving public assistance.

  • It's been three years since the order was entered or last reviewed by DCS for modification,
    or
  • There has been a significant change of circumstances since the order was last modified.

Some examples that may be a significant change in circumstances include:

  • You are now in Jail.
  • You have become permanently disabled or now receive public assistance.
  • You have new children you must support.
  • You have lost your job and are unable to find employment at the same wage.

If you have an Administrative Order from Washington State, you may petition to modify your support order without asking DCS for a review:

Prospective Modification of Administrative Order

If you have a Washington State administrative order and circumstances have changed since DCS entered the order, you may tell DCS that you want an administrative hearing by completing:

or complete a:
Late Request for Administrative Hearing and Washington State Child Support Worksheets.

Mail the completed forms to the field office that handles your case. (You may also call the field office to request a late hearing.)

If you are modifying your child support and do not have the income of the other party, you may send DCS a Request for Income Information for Purposes of Entering a Child Support OrderDSHS 18-701.

For more information to help in modifying your order, see the brochure How to obtain or modify a Child Support Order on your own, DSHS 22-021.

If you don't already have a case with us, you may apply for our services.

  • You can contact DCS by email
  • Call the Field Office
  • Call the DCS Employer Hotline at 1-800-591-2760
  • Print and fill out a copy of this form and mail it to: DCS, PO Box 11520, Tacoma WA 98411-5520
  • NOTE: please tell us the employee's home address, the last date employed by you, and new employer, if known.

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

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 make sure your Social Security Number is clearly noted on your payment.
  • For your convenience, DCS offers Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) options for paying child support. A noncustodial parent can register and make payments using the Division of Child Support Internet Payment Service. To register or view an online demonstration, visit our web site at http://www.childsupportpayment.dshs.wa.gov.
  • Click here to obtain an EFT 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.
  • 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.
  • Send payments to WSSR as directed by your support order unless you have received a notice from another child support agency telling you to send payments to them.

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).

Select Manually Enter Single New Hire Report and complete the data entry form.
Click Report This New Hire when you are done.

Employer Data

  • If you do not have a company on file the data entry form will ask you to enter the Employer Data.
  • If you have one company on file the system will automatically add the Employer Data to the form.
  • If you have more than one company on file the system will ask you to select the company for which you want to report.
  • If you have one or more companies on file and you want to add a new company follow the Add a Company link.

What happens after I submit the report?

  • If the report has errors you must correct the errors and click Report This New Hire when you are done.
  • If the report has no errors the page will display a message that we successfully received the report.
  • The system will email you a receipt of your report after 6pm (Pacific Time) when it processes all reports for the day.

Follow the six steps.

These instructions assume that a parent gives birth in a hospital, birthing clinic or at home. Sometimes, however, you will have opportunity to simply give information about the program to parents who are expecting to give birth weeks or months in the future. You may give out the Paternity Acknowledgment and booklets, and show the video (English) (Spanish).

Encourage the parents to bring the acknowledgment to the place where they will give birth.

Step 1

Determine whether or not the parents are married to each other.

If parents are not married to each other:

  • Give the parents a Paternity Acknowledgment (DOH/CHS 021) and a copy of the DSHS booklet entitled "Establish Parentage for Your Child's Sake" (DSHS 22-586). The Paternity Acknowledgment and booklet are available in English and Spanish.
  • Ask parents to read the instruction page on the front of the acknowledgment and the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities on the back of the acknowledgment. Federal and State laws require us to provide parents this written information.

Step 2

Federal and state laws also require that parents be given oral information. Parents should not sign the Paternity Acknowledgment until they have received this information. Offer the parents the opportunity to do at least one of the following:

  • View a short video which explains the benefits and legal requirements of signing the acknowledgment. The video is available in English and Spanish (English) (Spanish). Or,
  • Ask the parents to call 1-800-356-0463 for more information.
  • You may read the instruction page and the legal information to the parents.

Step 3

Help parents complete the Paternity Acknowledgment. Verify that it is filled out completely and accurately. Check carefully the following lines on the acknowledgment:

  • Line 12: The mother must check either yes or no. If she checks yes, she must provide the person's name. In addition, be certain that her husband or registered domestic partner also completes and has notarized the Presumed Parent's Denial of Paternity on lines 42 - 48. DOH cannot accept an acknowledgment with the YES box on item 12 unless the husband or domestic partner completes the Presumed Parent's Denial of Paternity.
  • Line 31: Federal regulations require providers to attempt to gather the father's social security number. Sometimes a foreign national will not have one. You may leave line 31 blank if the father will not provide his social security number or if he does not have one.
  • Line 39: The father must check either yes or no to the first question. If the father answers "No" to the first question, he should leave the second question blank. If the father asks for further information or genetic testing, refer him to the "Establish Parentage for Your Child's Sake" booklet and to the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities on the back of the Paternity Acknowledgment.
  • Line 40 and 41: Both parents must sign in the presence of a notary. The notary must attest to the authenticity of the signature being made.

Step 4

Notarize the parent's signatures on lines 40 and 41. Be certain to separately notarize each signature and place a notary stamp or seal to the right of both the mother's and father's signature block. Sometimes notary services are not immediately available at the place of birth. If possible, help the parents find a place where they may receive notary services. The bottom of the instruction page of the acknowledgment lists some potential notary locations. Any Washington State Division of Child Support (DCS) office will notarize the acknowledgment without cost. Some parents will want to take the acknowledgment home with them. The parents must complete and return the notarized acknowledgment to you within 5 days of the birth. Remind them that if they return the completed acknowledgment to you before you send the birth certificate to DOH, you will forward the acknowledgment to DOH for filing. If parents do not return the completed acknowledgment within five days, they can choose one of the following options:

  • " Mail the acknowledgment to DOH with the filing fee. The address is P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98504-7814 Or,
  • Take the complete acknowledgment to the local DCS office. DCS will notarize the acknowledgment without charge and forward it to DOH. DCS will pay the fee for the parents.

Step 5

Distribute copies to the appropriate people and places as follows:

  • Mail the original (white) to the DOH, Center for the Health Statistics (CHS), P.O. Box 47814, Olympia, WA 98504-7814 at the same time you submit the birth certificate information. If the mother is married or in a registered domestic partnership and the husband or domestic partner has signed a denial, include the denial with the acknowledgment.
  • Send the pink copy to the Division of Child Support (DCS). *See Step 6 for instructions.
  • Give the yellow copy to the mother.
  • Give the green copy to the father.

Step 6

The Washington State Division of Child Support (DCS) will pay you $20 for each correctly completed and notarized acknowledgment. Complete the State of Washington Invoice Voucher (Form DSHS A19-1A) PDFWord Document

  • In the Vendor or Claimant section (Top left), type the official name (not the DBA name) and address of the hospital, person, or organization which should receive payment.
  • Assign an invoice number or unique identifier and date in the upper right hand corner. This will assist your fiscal/accounting department when they receive payment from DSHS.
  • An authorized person must sign the invoice (top right). Include the phone number and the date signed. The invoice is considered incomplete without this information.
  • You may batch several acknowledgments with one invoice (preferred method). Each invoice provides space for up to 30 names that correspond to the acknowledgments you attach. If you submit 30 or less acknowledgments, list each name on the invoice. If you submit more than 30 acknowledgments, you may attach a separate list of names.
  • In the Date column enter the child's date of birth.
  • In the Child's full name column enter the child's full name.
  • Multiply the Quantity times $20 and enter the total in the Total due column.
  • Leave all other parts of the invoice voucher form blank.
  • Attach the pink copies of the acknowledgments to the invoice.

Mail the completed invoice voucher and the pink acknowledgment copies to:

DSHS/ESA Finance/Accounting Unit
PO Box 45445
Olympia, WA 98504-5445

Answer to Your Questions:

Below are some most often asked questions. If you have additional questions that are not answered in this guide, click here.

Either DCS, the noncustodial parent, or the custodial parent may petition to modify an administrative support order.


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).

You may need to gather information to provide us with verification necessary to make a decision about your case. Verification is the proof we need to decide if you are eligible for benefits. We will tell you what we need proof of, but the type of verification you provide is up to you. The verification page of this website provides more information on what may be requested.

Online new hire reporting is available using SecureAccess Washington. Visit https://secure.dshs.wa.gov/dcsonline and add the DCSOnline service.