Frequently Asked Questions

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

  • Contact your Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) to negotiate payments.
  • Your SEO may ask you to complete a Resource Statement. Click here for a Resource Statement, DSHS 18-97. Show all of your monthly expenses, periodic bills, and assets on the Resource Statement.
  • DCS wants to reach a repayment agreement that you can live with, yet taking your children's needs into consideration.
  • Ask your SEO if you can negotiate an escalation clause in your payment agreement. This allows DCS to collect a lesser amount towards back support in the beginning and increase the amount as you pay off some of your outstanding bills.
  • Back support payments may depend on how old your support obligation is. You may be asked to sign a Waiver of the Statute of Limitations. This also allows DCS to collect a lesser amount towards back support.
  • If you cannot come to a repayment agreement with your SEO, follow the instruction above to request a Conference Board.

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.

Anyone can apply to the Department of Social and Health Services. Your eligibility for services will need to be determined before you can receive DSHS services. You can apply on-line through the Washington Connection Portal or through your local DSHS Community Service Office.

When you visit a DSHS Community Service Office, please bring the following documented information to help with your eligibility determination:

  • Your immigration status documentation
  • Proof of Washington residency
  • Information on your income
  • Name of your voluntary resettlement agency (VOLAG)

Complete and return an application for Full Enforcement services. Once your completed application is received the case will be assigned to a Support Enforcement Officer (SEO) who will monitor the case , take collection actions as appropriate, track the debt owed, and assist with modification.

We will need to know your new address, who lives with you and how much you now pay for rent. We might request proof of your new circumstances.

DCS can take all of the following actions to enforce support:

  1. Attach wages.
  2. Attach unemployment compensation.
  3. Attach workmen's compensation (Labor & Industries).
  4. Attach pensions not protected under federal law.
  5. Attach non-earned funds payable to the non-custodial parent.
  6. Attach settlements as the result of lawsuits.
  7. Attach funds in financial institutions.
  8. File liens with county auditors where real or personal property is located.
  9. File liens against vehicles or vessels licensed with the Department of Licensing.
  10. Seize property held in safety deposit boxes.
  11. Seize vehicles or other personal property for sale at public auction.
  12. Request the suspension of drivers, professional and recreational licenses.
  13. Refer cases for judicial enforcement.
  14. Attach federal IRS income tax refunds and other federal payable funds.
  15. Non-renewal of U.S. Passports.
  16. Report debt to credit reporting agencies.
  17. Refer cases to an Indian tribe for establishment or enforcement.

DCS takes some collection actions, like income withholding, right away. If the noncustodial parent owes back support, we file a lien.

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.

Federal or state law require that DCS wait until a certain amount of debt is reached before DCS takes some actions, such as license suspension and passport non-renewal.


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.

When most people hear the words "domestic violence," they think of physical violence, but many abusers never physically attack their domestic violence victims. Abusers find many ways to control victims - by using words, cheating, lying, or threatening.

Many abusers use money and resources as a means of control. If a victim does not have easy access to money, a car or housing, it makes life hard. Abusers can make it nearly impossible if a victim decides to leave or tries to stay away.

Abusers can use child support as another way to maintain or regain control over victims.

  • If you have an abuser who said you will never see a dime of child support if you leave ...

Or

  • If your abuser said you will lose custody of your children if you ask for child support ...

Or

... then you are among thousands of victims and survivors statewide experiencing these forms of domestic violence.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available to sort out the advantages and disadvantages of using the child support system and your options within that system.

The remainder of this information answers basic questions about child support and leads you to other resources for more information.

  • If your abuser had no interest in visiting the children until forced to pay child support and now every visit with the children gives your abuser the chance to further harass or assault you

See the following resources:


  • US Mail Payment Address
    • Washington State Support Registry
      PO Box 45868
      Olympia, WA 98504-5868
  • If an employer fails to enroll a child in an available medical plan, DCS may fine the employer $200 for the first month of non-enrollment, $300 for the second month, and $500 for the third month, not to exceed $1,000 for each Notice of Enrollment. RCW 48.01.235 requires the employer not to wait until the next open enrollment to enroll the child, but to enroll the child immediately.

  • DCS can assess a fine of $100 for each failure to comply with an inquiry, subpoena, lien, or withholding instrument.

  • DCS may impose fines when an employer fails to report the hiring of a new employee at $25 per employee per month, or $500 if failure to report is the result of a conspiracy between the employer and employee.


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.

  1. Your complaint is taken or received by the Office of Fraud and Accountability Welfare Fraud Hotline Coordinator.
    NOTE: If you wish to remain anonymous, do not provide your name as it may be subject to public disclosure. If you choose not to remain anonymous, please provide your name and phone number so one of our investigators may contact you if any additional information is needed.
  2. The Coordinator then sends a report out for investigation.
    NOTE: Once the report is sent out, the Coordinator has no further information regarding the investigation.
    ALSO: The status or results of an investigation cannot be disclosed per
    RCW 74.04.060.
  3. The Investigator completes an investigation of the allegations.
  4. The results of the investigation are sent to the appropriate Community Services Office (Welfare Office).
  5. OFA criminal investigation results may be sent to the appropriate prosecutor.

Washington State Welfare Fraud Hotline: 1-800-562-6906

OFA investigates Welfare Fraud in the state of Washington. The word Welfare is used to include: Public Assistance programs and benefits; food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); Quest card, which is used for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT); and Childcare benefits.

For additional questions or if you are Law Enforcement, you can leave a message, and your call will be returned within 24 hours at 360-664-5505.

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 $500 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, 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.

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).

    A Paternity Acknowledgment signed by a minor is valid. Minors who sign the Paternity Acknowledgment will be held to the same standard as adults except for an extended period for rescission.

    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