Frequently Asked Questions

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

Noncompliance is the failure of a person, business, or other entity to take action as required by an inquiry, subpoena, or income-withholding instrument issued by any state's child support enforcement agency.

Noncompliance is the failure to:

  • Respond to an inquiry from a child support enforcement agency.

  • Comply with a subpoena issued by a child support enforcement agency.

  • Return the Answer to an income-withholding instrument or notice of enrollment.

  • Withhold support required under a lien or an income-withholding instrument. The party is liable for either the amount that should have been withheld, or for the debt amount on an Order to Withhold and Deliver, whichever is less.

  • Remit withheld support monies to the child support enforcement agency.

  • Enroll children in an available medical plan required under a Notice of Enrollment.

  • Report a new hired 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.

DCS uses an informal proceeding called a conference board to resolve customer complaints or grievances.

  • If you feel aggrieved by a DCS action or dissatisfied with an employee, first contact your support enforcement officer (SEO).
  • If you can't resolve the issue, you can request a conference board.

For more information, see the rules governing conference boards in WAC 388-14A-6400 and following. In addition, DCS has a brochure entitled Child Support Conference Boards. You can get the brochure from your DCS office.


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).

Once a final administrative child support order is entered, the current child support and health insurance and medical requirements continue each month until one of the following occurs:

  • A state or tribal court order supersedes the order.
  • The order is modified under WAC 388-14A-3925. The noncustodial parent, custodial parent, physical custodian, or DCS may petition for modification of a child support order.
  • The later of a child's 18th birthday or graduation from a secondary school program or the same level of vocational or technical training, if the child is a full-time student and has not reached age nineteen (19). If the child will not graduate by his or her 19th birthday, child support stops at the end of the month containing the child's 19th birthday.
  • A child is emancipated, marries, or becomes a member of the United States armed forces.
  • A child or the noncustodial parent dies.
  • The parties to the order marry or remarry each other, as provided in WAC 388-14A-3100(3).

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).

Federal Law

DEFICIT REDUCTION ACT OF 2005 120 STAT. 148 PUBLIC LAW 109-171-FEB. 8, 2006 SEC. 7310. MANDATORY FEE FOR SUCCESSFUL CHILD SUPPORT COLLECTION FOR FAMILY THAT HAS NEVER RECEIVED TANF.

(a) In General- Section 454(6)(B) (42 U.S.C. 654(6)(B)) is amended--
(1) by inserting `(i)' after `(B)';
(2) by re-designating clauses (i) and (ii) as subclauses (I) and
(II), respectively;
(3) by adding `and' after the semicolon; and
(4) by adding after and below the end the following new clause:
`(ii) in the case of an individual who has never received assistance under a State program funded under part A and for whom the State has collected at least $500 of support, the State shall impose an annual fee of $25 for each case in which services are furnished, which shall be retained by the State from support collected on behalf of the individual (but not from the first $500 so collected), paid by the individual applying for the services, recovered from the absent parent, or paid by the State out of its own funds (the payment of which from State funds shall not be considered as an administrative cost of the State for the operation of the plan, and the fees shall be considered income to the program);'.
(b) Conforming Amendments- Section 457(a)(3) (42 U.S.C. 657(a)(3)) is amended to read as follows:
`(3) FAMILIES THAT NEVER RECEIVED ASSISTANCE- In the case of any other family, the State shall distribute to the family the portion of the amount so collected that remains after withholding any fee pursuant to section 454(6)(B)(ii).'.
(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take
effect on October 1, 2006.

State of Washington Law

Section 5 of SSB 5244 (Chapter 143, Laws of 2007):

Sec.5. RCW 74.20.040 and 1997 c 58 s 891 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Whenever the department receives an application for public assistance on behalf of a child, the department shall take appropriate action under the provisions of this chapter, chapter 74.20A RCW, or other appropriate statutes of this state to establish or enforce support obligations against the parent or other persons owing a duty to pay support moneys.
(2) The secretary may accept a request for support enforcement services on behalf of persons who are not recipients of public assistance and may take appropriate action to establish or enforce support obligations against the parent or other persons owing a duty to pay moneys. Requests accepted under this subsection may be conditioned upon the payment of a fee as required by subsection (6) of this section or through regulation issued by the secretary. The secretary may establish by regulation, reasonable standards and qualifications for support enforcement services under this subsection.
(3) The secretary may accept requests for support enforcement services from child support enforcement agencies in other states operating child support programs under Title IV-D of the social security act or from foreign countries, and may take appropriate action to establish and enforce support obligations, or to enforce subpoenas, information requests, orders for genetic testing, and collection actions issued by the other agency against the parent or other person owing a duty to pay support moneys, the parent or other person's employer, or any other person or entity properly subject to child support collection or information-gathering processes. The request shall contain and be accompanied by such information and documentation as the secretary may by rule require, and be signed by an authorized representative of the agency. The secretary may adopt rules setting forth the duration and nature of services provided under this subsection.
4) The department may take action to establish, enforce, and collect a support obligation, including performing related services, under this chapter and chapter 74.20A RCW, or through the attorney general or prosecuting attorney for action under chapter 26.09, 26.18, 26.20, 26.21A, or 26.26 RCW or other appropriate statutes or the common law of this state. (5) Whenever a support order is filed with the Washington state support registry under chapter 26.23 RCW, the department may take appropriate action under the provisions of this chapter, chapter 26.23 or 74.20A RCW, or other appropriate law of this state to establish or enforce the support obligations contained in that order against the responsible parent or other persons owing a duty to pay support moneys. (6) The secretary, in the case of an individual who has never received assistance under a state program funded under part A and for whom the state has collected at least five hundred dollars of support, shall impose an annual fee of twenty-five dollars for each case in which services are furnished, which shall be retained by the state from support collected on behalf of the individual, but not from the first five hundred dollars of support. The secretary may, on showing of necessity, waive or defer any such fee or cost. (7) Fees, due and owing, may be retained from support payments directly or collected as delinquent support moneys utilizing any of the remedies in chapter 74.20 RCW, chapter 74.20A RCW, chapter 26.21A RCW, or any other remedy at law or equity available to the department or any agencies with whom it has a cooperative or contractual arrangement to establish, enforce, or collect support moneys or support obligations. (8) The secretary may waive the fee, or any portion thereof, as a part of a compromise of disputed claims or may grant partial or total charge off of said fee if the secretary finds there are no available, practical, or lawful means by which said fee may be collected or to facilitate payment of the amount of delinquent support moneys or fees owed.
(9) The secretary shall adopt rules conforming to federal laws, including but not limited to complying with section 7310 of the federal deficit reduction act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 654, and rules and regulations required to be observed in maintaining the state child support enforcement program required under Title IV-D of the federal social security act. The adoption of these rules shall be calculated to promote the cost-effective use of the agency's resources and not otherwise cause the agency to divert its resources from its essential functions.


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.

The Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR) is a notice that the Division of Child Support (DCS) uses to establish an administrative child support obligation. This page provides information about the Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility. If you received a NFFR and still have questions after reading the information below, contact the Division of Child Support (DCS) at the phone numbers listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which DCS office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).

In the state of Washington, the Office of Fraud and Accountability has delegated authority to conduct investigations related to allegations of fraud within programs administered by the Department of Social and Health Services. Investigations focus on Welfare eligibility issues and Vendor Fraud. Investigators coordinate with staff at the Community Services Offices statewide; with county prosecutors; and with local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies when necessary.


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.

In 2016, 28,274 children were born to unmarried parents in Washington State. The Paternity Acknowledgment Program provides unmarried parents an opportunity to voluntarily sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. Once both parents sign the acknowledgment and it is notarized, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) may enter the father's name on the birth certificate. The acknowledgment establishes a legal finding of paternity. A parent may rescind his or her signature by initiating a court action within no more than 60 days after the Paternity Acknowledgment is filed at DOH. 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. Legally establishing paternity helps a child become eligible to receive certain benefits if needed. Some of those benefits include child support, social security, health insurance, and inheritance rights. Establishing paternity also makes it possible for the child to enjoy a sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents. Washington's program began in July 1989. Your efforts helped the parents of over 21,500 children sign a Paternity Acknowledgment last year.


 

A Guide for Providers in Washington State

Welcome

Hospitals, midwives, birth clinics, health departments, physicians, and other organizations form the back-bone of Washington State's Paternity Acknowledgment Program. Your efforts have made Washington State's program an outstanding success and a model for the nation. This guide provides you with the information you need to comply with federal and state laws and meet the needs of parents who desire to sign a paternity acknowledgment. We sincerely appreciate your efforts!

When the employee's principal place of employment is Washington State, the priority of withholding is current support first, the health insurance premium second, and past-due support last. When the employee's principal place of employment is not Washington State, the employer will have to contact the child support agency in that state for priority information.

The Refugee Act of 1980 created The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program to provide for the effective resettlement of refugees and to assist them to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the U.S. Title IV, Chapter 2 of the Immigration and Nationality Act contains the provisions of the Refugee Act.

The U.S. government allows a certain number of refugees to come to the U.S. each year. Individuals granted refugee status overseas by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are brought to the U.S. for resettlement by the U.S. Department of State. Voluntary agencies - VOLAG's and the Office of Refugee Resettlement - ORR  assist refugees with resettlement and integration into the U.S. Refugees are eligible to receive ORR benefits and services for up to five years beginning the first day they arrive in the U.S.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) also has the authority to investigate Vendor Fraud. A Vendor is a person or entity that has a legal contract with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide goods or services to DSHS or its clients. Sometimes these individuals or companies overcharge or bill for services not provided.

You can report Vendor Fraud by:

  • Faxing your written complaint to: ATTN: Vendor Fraud at 360-664-0032.
  • Mailing your written complaint to:  OFA Vendor Fraud, P.O. Box 45817, Olympia, Washington 98504-5817.

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.

Welfare Fraud is fraud against the programs of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), including unlawful practices in obtaining cash assistance, medical assistance, and/or food assistance. It is the intentional misstatement or failure to reveal information affecting eligibility resulting in an overpayment. For further information about fraud against DSHS, please review the Eligibility A-Z Manual Fraud Section, or see the entire EAZ Manual.

The Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA) has the authority to investigate the following allegations:

Unreported Employment: The client is suspected of not reporting employment.

Unearned Income: The client is suspected of not reporting the receipt of recurring income not derived from employment.

Unreported Assets: The client is suspected of having one or more of the following assets: Real estate, vehicles, boats, motor homes, non-recurring monetary holdings, etc.

Unreported Child Support: The client is suspected of receiving unreported child support payments.

Unreported Marriage: The client is suspected of not reporting a marriage that may affect the grant amount.

Absent Parent in Home: The client is suspected of not reporting the presence of an absent parent in the home. This includes stepparents.

Child Out of Home: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving benefits for a child not present in the home.

Household Composition: The client is suspected of receiving assistance for an ineligible dependent or has not accurately reported the correct number of persons living in the household.

Address Verification: The client is suspected of not reporting their address information correctly.

Duplicate Grants: The client is suspected of applying for or receiving grants under multiple names.

False Identity: The client is suspected of submitting false identification to apply for or obtain a grant; or may be working under a false identity.

Felony Drug Conviction/Warrant: The client is suspected of having a felony drug conviction after August 26, 1996, or is wanted on an outstanding felony warrant, which would make the client ineligible for welfare benefits.

Child Care Fraud: The client is suspected of improperly receiving child care payments or reporting a false provider.

EBT Fraud: The client is suspected of fraudulently using their Quest card or allowing their Quest card to be used by an unauthorized person.

Other: The client is suspected of any other improper procedure not covered by the other categories.


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.

In a hearing about your child support obligation an ALJ applies the Washington State Child Support Schedule in calculating your gross income, your net income, and your monthly child support obligation.

You may ask an ALJ to consider some or all of the following information:

  • What deductions, including the amount of income you may be putting aside for your retirement, should be considered in determining your net income.
  • Whether income from overtime or a second job should be included or excluded. The ALJ considers the reason a parent works the overtime or second job in making this decision.
  • Whether or not to impute income to you because you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
  • Whether there are circumstances which would make it unjust to apply the self-support reserve (low income limitation) in deciding the amount of the child support obligation.
  • Whether it is unfair or presents a hardship to the noncustodial parent to require the presumptive minimum payment of $50.00 per month per child, or why it would be unfair or would present a hardship to the custodial parent if the child support order was less than the presumptive minimum amount.
  • If the obligation for the noncustodial parent's biological and legal children exceeds 45 percent of his or her net income, whether there is "good cause" (a sufficient legal or factual reason) not to apply the 45 percent limitation.
  • Any other fact about either parent's particular situation that makes the noncustodial parent more or less able to provide child support than other people with a similar income and number of children, or that makes the custodial parent require more or less child support than other people with a similar income and number of children.

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 you are paying by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or using the Child Support Internet Payment System (CSIPS), follow the directions for that program.
  • If you are sending in a check, please give us the following information for each employee covered by your payment:
  • Employee name
  • Employee SSN or account number (listed on the OWI)
  • Payroll date
  • Total amount withheld from this employee's check
  • The OWI packet includes a form called "Employer Payment Identification Instructions." You can photocopy that and use it for future Payments, or you can download the form here

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

A child support order may include a financial support obligation, a medical support obligation, or both.

  • When DCS establishes an administrative child support obligation, the support order usually contains both a financial support obligation and a medical support obligation. The administrative order sets the medical support obligations for both parents of the children.
    • Financial support is the obligation to make monthly payments towards the cost of food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for the child or children.
    • Medical support includes the obligation to provide health insurance coverage or to pay a portion of any health care costs.
  • Under certain circumstances, a custodial parent who receives state medical assistance for a child or children may waive establishment of the financial support obligation. DCS will then establish an order for medical support only.
  • If DCS establishes an order for medical support only, either party may also seek to establish a current financial support obligation. That party must apply for full enforcement services and then petition to modify the existing order. DCS may also petition to modify the order when establishment of a current financial support obligation is required by Federal IV-D program rules.

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 noncustodial parent (NCP) who objects to a NFFR has the burden of establishing any defenses to liability. Defenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Proof of previous payment;
  • Proving the existence of a superior court order, tribal court order, or administrative order that sets the NCP's support obligation or specifically relieves the NCP of a support obligation for the child or children named in the notice;
  • Claiming that the party is not a responsible parent as defined by RCW 74.20A.020(7);
  • Claiming that the amount requested in the notice is inconsistent with the Washington state child support schedule, Chapter 26.19 RCW;
  • Equitable estoppel, subject to WAC 388-14A-6500; or
  • Any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.

A dependent child's or a custodial parent's ineligibility to receive public assistance is not a defense to the establishment of a support obligation.

Wrongful Deprivation

An NCP may be excused from providing support for a dependent child if the NCP is the legal custodian of the child and has been wrongfully deprived of physical custody of the child. The NCP may be excused only for any period during which the NCP was wrongfully deprived of custody. The NCP must establish that:

  • A court of competent jurisdiction of any state has entered an order giving legal and physical custody of the child to the NCP;
  • The custody order has not been modified, superseded, or dismissed;
  • The child was taken or enticed from the NCP's physical custody and the NCP has not subsequently assented to deprivation. Proof of enticement requires more than a showing that the child is allowed to live without certain restrictions the NCP would impose; and
  • Within a reasonable time after deprivation, the NCP exerted and continues to exert reasonable efforts to regain physical custody of the child.

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).

There are many resources available for victims and survivors of domestic violence around the state. The DSHS Children's Administration gives information about resources both inside and outside of DSHS online click here.

If you are interested in the Secretary of State's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), you can find information about ACP at http://www.secstate.wa.gov/acp/.

Different programs have different coverage. To find out if a specific item is covered, you can ask your medical provider or call 1-800-562-3022 (or TTY at 1-800-848-5429).

Administrative Support Order Establishment

DCS will establish support administratively using the Washington State Child Support Schedule when any of the following are true:

  1. New! July 2012 - Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility
  2. There is no court order or administrative support order in any jurisdiction.
  3. The court order is silent about the non-custodial parent paying support.
  4. The court order does not set support as a fixed amount, but the amount is determinable.
  5. The non-custodial father has a valid acknowledgement of paternity on file with a state.

Learn more about how DCS establishes administrative orders. If you think that current child support on your administrative order should change because circumstances have changed, contact DCS. A modification may be appropriate.

Learn more about administrative order modification.


Full Enforcement or Collection Services

DCS enforces all current and back support accrued under a valid child support order.

DCS includes support ordered spousal support and child-care costs only in conjunction with current support.

DCS only collects interest on back support when reduced to a judgment.

Enforcement includes wage withholding, other income withholding, medical enforcement, IRS tax refund attachment, or interstate referral. Services may include license revocation, personal property seizure, or referral for contempt or federal criminal non-support.

Families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Children or Medicaid automatically receive full-collection services.

Locate Services

DCS provides services to custodial parents who are unable to locate the non-custodial responsible parent for the purposes of collecting child support. DCS will ask other states for help in locating the non-custodial parent. When the non-custodial parent is located, you will be sent an application for services. The non-custodial parent's address may not be released to you without consent.

Medical Enforcement

In addition to current child support, DCS may enforce medical support requirements for an obligated parent to provide insurance available through the obligated parent's employer or union. Only a person receiving Medicaid can ask DCS to enforce medical support only. If you have medical coverage (not Medicaid) for the child, you may ask DCS to enforce only child support. Learn more about medical enforcement.

Paternity Establishment

DCS provides services to determine the father of a child. The child must be under the age of eighteen. 
Read more about paternity establishment.

Payment Processing Services Only (PSO)

If your support order states that payments must be made to the Washington State Support Registry, DCS processes and disburses payments to the payee on the order. When payments are late or past due, DCS takes no enforcement action on your case. When you move, you must give the State Registry your new address.

Post-secondary Educational Support

DCS will provide services for children with court orders for post-secondary educational support. The student must be enrolled in an accredited academic or vocational school, be in a regular course of study, and be in good academic standing. DCS will enforce educational support only if payable to the parent or to the child.

  • Honor another state's withholding order (make sure you submit Payments (to the right place!)
  • Washington law regarding the 50% limitation applies even to other state's withholding orders
  • If you receive an OWI from DCS and another state for the same employee, You must honor both orders, equally. If there is insufficient income to pay all of the current support and arrears that are requested, please contact DCS for assistance in calculating the amount to send to each state.

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