Understanding Washington
DC Child Support Laws

Washington DC Child Support

The Washington Dc Child Support department is there for you. When the relationship between a child's parents ends, it does not mean that the responsibility for either parent of the child ends.

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Both parents should remain financially and legally obligated to the child even if the relationship ends. This division is the district agency that helps the person caring for a child to collect child support from the child's non-custodial parent. This division also helps those who are divorced to collect spousal support.

CSSD has trained staff who provide a variety of services to eligible persons. These services include determining a child's birth parents and establishing paternity and starting a support order; establishing medical support; locating a child's parent for the purpose of establishing paternity and child support; enforcing child support payments and medical support established by court order; collecting child and spousal support payments; and reviewing child support orders and the parents' financial situation to determine whether an increase or decrease is needed.

Some Important Washington Dc Child Support Legal Terms

The parents in a case may be referred to with different names.

  • The person entitled to support is called an: obligee custodial parent, or caretaker.
  • The person owing support is called an: obligor non-custodial parent, or absent parent.

Filing for a Washington Dc Child Support Case

If you receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, or Medicaid Benefits only, the Department of Human Services will automatically refer your name to the Washington Dc child support Services Division. If you are NON-TANF, you can apply for services as early as four months of pregnancy with documentation from a doctor. In order to order to apply for services with the Child Support Services Division, you must complete an application. Please call 202-442-9900 to schedule an appointment or to request a mail-in application. The package will explain all documents needed to file a case.

Establishing The Correct Paternity For Your Child

In the District of Columbia, when a child is born to unmarried parents, there is no automatic legal relationship between the father and the child. The biological father's name will not be placed on the birth certificate without filling out an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). This is called paternity establishment and establishes the biological father as the legal father.

How To Establish The Correct Paternity

Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity:

A mother and or father can voluntarily sign an AOP form. Establishing paternity is easy and free. The process is available to parents if the mother was not married at the time of birth, conception or anytime in between. If both parents do complete the AOP form, they do not have to go to court to establish paternity.

  • Both parents must swear the information on the AOP form is valid and true.
  • The father must provide proper photo identification.
  • No blood test is required.
  • Signing an AOP is easy and free.
  • Both parents must sign the AOP before the mother and baby can leave the hospital.
  • AOP forms are available in Hospitals, Birthing Centers or the Department of Health and Vital Records. Each facility can help you complete the form.

Child Support Services Division (CSSD) can help parents establish paternity by:

  • Filing a Petition - If the man you suspect to be your child's father disputes that he is the father you can establish paternity through CSSD. The Washington Dc child support office can help you file a petition with DC Superior Court. This petition will name the man you suspect is your child's biological father and request a child support order.
  • Court Hearing - The DC Superior Court will hold a hearing, which the mother and potential father must attend. At this hearing, the man has a chance to admit if he is the child's biological father.
  • Genetic Testing - If the man named as the child's father is not sure if he is the father, or denies that he is, the court may order a genetic test. If the test proves he is the child's father, the court will issue an order that establishes the child's paternity. This order is legal proof establishing your child's paternity.

TANF Recipients

District of Columbia law requires Temporary Aid to Need Families (TANF) customers to establish paternity, unless there is a "Good Cause" for not doing so. If you receive TANF benefits, or are seeking a child support order, you must contact CSSD.

Why Is Establishing The Correct Paternity Important?

  • Legal Bond - It creates a legal bond between father and child.
  • Responsible Adults - Children with a father figure are more likely to stay in school, avoid drugs and crime, and become responsible adults.
  • Child Support - Your child's father may be required by a court to pay child support and provide health insurance coverage for your child.
  • Birth Certificate - Paternity must be established before your child's birth certificate will show the name of the father.
  • Social Security Benefits - Your child maybe eligible for Social Security benefits if the father becomes disabled or is deceased.
  • Life Insurance - Your child may be entitled to his or her father's life insurance benefits.
  • Inheritance - Your child may share a right to inherit property from his or her father's estate.
  • Medical History - Children have access to their father's medical history.
  • Military Benefits - Your child may be eligible for medical coverage and life insurance benefits if his or her father currently works or previously worked for the military.

Rescinding Your AOP

Either parent may rescind the AOP by completing a form and filing it with the Office of Vital Records within 60 days from the date of the last notarized signature. Rescission forms are available at the Department of Health Vital Records Office.


If you need to locate your child's father, or have questions about establishing paternity, please contact your local Department of Health Vital Records office or the Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Services Division, Customer Service Unit at (202) 442-9900.

Washington Dc Child Support Guidelines:

Effective April 1, 2007, Washington Dc child support changed its Support Guidelines. The Child Support Services Division (CSSD) website now provides an online Child Support Guideline Calculator which estimates child support payments based upon your current financial situation. To see how much child support you may be required to pay, please select the Child Support Guideline Calculator link below.

Some FAQ’s dealing with paternity:

Q: What happens if paternity is denied?

Once paternity is denied, a DNA (genetic) test is ordered and both parties ,and minor children are required to submit to testing.

Q: What does voluntary acknowledgement cost?

There is no cost to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. The DC Division of Vital Records charges a $6.00 fee to add a father's name to the child's birth certificate.

Q: Do we have to sign right away?

For the fathers name to go on the original birth certificate, the acknowledgement will usually need to be signed before the mother and child leave the hospital. But, the original birth certificate can be changed if the parents acknowledge paternity at a later time.

Q: What if we change our minds?

For Up to 60 days, either parent can change the acknowledgement. After 60 days, changing the acknowledgement will mean going to court.

To help the CSSD help you, remember the following:

  • Keep appointments with the Washington Dc child support Services Division or take the time to cancel and make a new one.
  • Come to the office prepared. Bring with you any court orders, birth certificates, Social Security numbers, income or tax records, documents to establish ownership of property, payment records, and any documents that show the whereabouts or the assets of the obligor.
  • If the CSSD is locating a non-custodial parent, then write down any information you may have or learn about the non-custodial parent. Share any information on a regular basis about where the parent may be, who the parent may be associating with, where the parent may be working or going to school, and any plans that may be made about the parent's work, future, income, or assets.
  • Give the following information, in writing, to the Washington Dc child support Services Division:Any changes about Address Pay or income Where or how you get your money or income Custody arrangements Your child support order
  • If there is an order for support, follow the written order exactly. Do not make other arrangements with the other parent without getting the court order changed.
  • Remember, gifts to a child from the obligor cannot be counted as support payments.
  • Keep good, complete records of all payments made or received.
  • Always provide accurate, up-to-date information about your Washington Dc child support case.

Contact Info:

By Mail:

Child Support Services Division
Office of the Attorney General
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW
Suite 550N
Washington, DC 20001

By Web:

Email: cssd.oag@dc.gov

By Phone: (Washington Dc child support Agency Directory)

Phone: (202) 442-9900

Office Hours
8:15 am to 4:45 pm Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri.
8:15 am to 6:30 pm Wed., except District holidays

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