How does DCS collect payments if the noncustodial parent is unemployed and living out of state?

DCS tries to collect from out of state noncustodial parents with the help of the other state. We may ask the other state to try license suspension, asset seizure, or other remedies.

When all of these fail, DCS may refer a case to the U.S. Attorney for Federal Criminal Non-support. This is a criminal case referral. Unlike a contempt action, conviction requires evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" in U.S. Federal Court.

The case must meet certain criteria for DCS Central Operations in Olympia to send the evidence to the U.S. Attorney's office. A case may be brought in either the state where the child resides or in the state where the non-custodial parent lives. In most cases, it is the state where the child resides which refers the case.

  • DCS must be providing full-collection services.
  • The non-custodial parent cannot live in the same state as the child.
  • DCS has exhausted all other collection remedies.
  • At least $5,000 is due in back support.
  • DCS has received no payments in at least six months.
  • DCS has evidence that the non-custodial parent can pay support.

If you would like DCS to consider referral to the U.S. Attorney for Federal Criminal Non-support referral, contact your DCS Support Enforcement Officer or DCS Central Operations.

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.