Find out how child support works and how to apply for Washington State Child Support.
Washington Child Support
In Washington State, the Division of Child Support (DCS), a branch of the Department of Social and Health Services is in charge of administering child support. This agency provides resources to custodial parents, non-custodial parents, child custodians or guardians.
Services they provide include paternity establishment, child support order establishment, modification, and enforcement; and child support payment processing. DCS will provide child support services until the child leaves the custodian's household, or turns eighteen years of age. However, DCS will continue to pursue any child support payments that are in arrears.
Determining the Amount of Washington State Child Support
Child support payments are intended to pay for the ordinary expenses of raising a child: food, shelter, clothing, education and medical care. In determining the amount of child support that should be awarded, a court will assess the needs and age of the children, the financial ability of the non-custodial parent, the earning capacity of the custodial parent, and the other responsibilities of both parents. As in most states, Washington uses a set of predetermined Child Support Laws and Guidelines to determine the correct amount of child support to be awarded. See the DCS website to calculate the amount of child support that would be applicable for your situation.
Applying For Washington State Child Support Services
Washington State’s DCS office requires a different application package depending upon your circumstances and requirements. Once you decide which application package you will need to complete, you can download the appropriate forms from this site, or from the DCS website (see the section below entitled “For More Info.”) You can also get these forms at any one of the nine DCS field offices throughout the state.
Custodial Parents without a Child Support Order: Complete these forms
Non-Custodial Parents with a Washington State Child Support Order: Complete forms
Non-Custodial Parents without a Child Support Order: Complete forms
Once you have downloaded and completed the required forms, you can mail them to the following address:
Division of Child Support
P.O. Box 11520
Tacoma, Washington 98411-5520
The length of time it will take the DCS office to process your child support application depends on several things. You may receive a child support payment within the first month after DCS processes your application. However, if there is no child support order, or if the non-custodial parent is on public assistance, has no assets, or lives in another state, it may take longer for you to receive your child support payments.
Enforcing A Washington State Child Support Order
The DCS office will take a number of actions to collect court ordered child support and medical insurance payments. These include income withholding, credit reporting, tax refund deductions, passport revocation or restriction, property and/or bank account liens, license (driver’s, professional, and recreational) denial, and federal prosecution.
Modifying A Washington State Child Support Order
You have several options to choose from if you do not agree with the amount of your child support payments, or if you wish to modify a child support order. First, you can hire an attorney to help you modify the order, you can petition the court yourself, or you can request that DCS review your particular case. If Washington’s DCS office has jurisdiction over the case, they will review the order, as long as at least one of the following conditions is met.
1. The change you are seeking must total at least one hundred dollars and be an increase or decrease of at least twenty-five percent (unless an increase of less than one hundred dollars would allow your family to discontinue receiving public assistance.)
2. It has been at least three years since the child support ordered was last reviewed.
3. There has been a significant change in either the financial or custodial circumstances for either parent since the order was last modified.
Child Support Tribal Relations
There are twenty-nine (29) federally recognized Indian tribes in Washington. These tribes are considered independent sovereign governments that hold the same status as other states and foreign nations. DCS works together with the State Tribal Relations Unit (STRU) to negotiate intergovernmental agreements in order to establish and enforce child support obligations on Indian reservations.
Washington Child Support Laws
Washington’s Division of Child Support enforces both federal and state child support laws. Federal child support regulations are governed by Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and Section 45 CFR 300-399 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Washington state child support laws include Chapter 26 RCW on Domestic Relations, Chapter 74.20 RCW on Support of Dependent Children, Washington Administrative Code WAC 388-14A on the Division of Child Support Rules, and WAC 388-422 covering Child Support. You can access information on any of these laws and regulations by checking the website listed below under Washington State’s Child Support Laws.
Washington Child Support Most Wanted Internet Site
Washington’s DCS maintains a most wanted internet site that post the names of non-paying parents and the amount of child support payments that are in arrears. The goal of this site is to locate parents that are in arrears and collect unpaid child support payments. People who have information about any of the parents on the most wanted site are encouraged to contact any local DCS office.Trouble Collecting Your Child Support? Let Us Help!
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