What does DCS do to enforce support?

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 25 percent receive partial payment and 25 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.