What legal defenses are available to a noncustodial parent when DCS seeks to establish a support obligation? (WAC 388-14A-3370)

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  • The custody order has not been modified, superseded, or dismissed;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).