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Washington State Child Support Laws

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The Washington State Child Support program is a very good way to make sure your child gets the financial support they need.

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The IV-D program better known as "child support" was established in 1975 to help the custodial parent take care of the child. Both parents are responsible for the well being and support of their children. Washington State provides exceptional child support services to improve the lives of children, families and communities.

What is Child Support?

Child Support is money which an absent parent is ordered to pay on a regular basis to help support the cost of raising his or her child.

Who is eligible to receive child support services?

Families who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Children or Medicaid automatically receive Washington state Child Support services. You qualify to receive DCS non-assistance services if you are not currently receiving services from another state and any one of the following statements applies to you:

  1. I am a parent who has custody of a minor child.
  2. I am a lawful custodian of a minor child.
  3. I am a former custodian who is owed child support that accrued under a support order.
  4. I am the father of the child and want to establish the paternity of my child.
  5. I am the non-custodial parent of a child and want to pay support.
  6. I am due court ordered post-secondary educational support for a child in school.

If both the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent live outside Washington, the non-custodial parent must have some tie to Washington State, such as, a Washington State Child Support order, a Washington-based employer, or assets located in Washington. If there is no tie to Washington, apply for services in the state where one of the parents live.

How do I establish fatherhood?

Establishing fatherhood is easy and painless. Paternity means fatherhood. Establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between a father and a child. Establishing a legal father for a child provides that child many potential benefits. These benefits are important in a child's life and gives them a sense of security and understanding who their father is. Some of those benefits include:

  • A sense of belonging because the child knows both parents.
  • If your child becomes sick, the family doctor will appreciate a full family medical history.
  • Your child may be eligible for government benefits such as social security or veteran's dependent benefits.
  • Your child may qualify for medical insurance coverage through the father's health plan and could become the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
  • Your child may also have the right to future inheritance benefits.
  • Your child will become eligible for financial support from both parents.

Paternity Affidavit Program

In 2003, more than 21,000 children were born to unmarried parents in Washington State. The Paternity Affidavit Program provides unmarried parents an opportunity to voluntarily sign a Paternity Affidavit. Once both parents sign the affidavit and it is notarized, the Washington State Department of Health may enter the father's name on the birth certificate. The affidavit establishes a legal finding of paternity. A parent may rescind his or her signature by initiating a court action within no more than 60 days after the Paternity Affidavit is filed at DOH.

Legally establishing paternity helps a child become eligible to receive certain benefits if needed. Some of those benefits include child support, social security, health insurance, and inheritance rights. Establishing paternity also makes it possible for the child to enjoy a sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents. Washington's program began in July 1989. Your efforts helped the parents of more than 14,000 children sign a Paternity Affidavit last year.

What are my legal rights when I sign a Paternity Affidavit form?

When you sign a form, federal law says you must receive both written and oral information about your rights and responsibilities. A statement of your rights and responsibilities is on the back of the form. It is important that you understand what it says. Read the statement and do one of the following:

  • Watch a video at the hospital, birthing clinic, your local health department, or any DCS office.
  • Listen to the automated Paternity Affidavit information by calling the automated Washington State Child Support center.
  • Ask someone to read the statement to you.

Do not sign the form until you receive and understand both the written and oral information!!

Can I change my mind after I sign the form?

Either the man or the woman can ask a court to take the man’s name off the birth record. You must ask the court within 60 days of DOH filing the form. The legal word for having your name removed from the birth record is “rescind.” If you are going to court to try to get your name removed from the birth record, as the child’s father, you must ask DOH for a certified copy. To get a certified copy you need to show proof of your identity and pay a fee.You cannot challenge the Paternity Affidavit if 2 years pass after the filing date.

Locate Services

Washington State Child Support provides services to custodial parents who are unable to locate the non-custodial parent for the purposes of collecting child support. DCS will ask other states for help in locating the non-custodial parent. When the non-custodial parent is located, you will be sent an application for services. The non-custodial parent's address may not be released to you without consent. DCS maintains the Most Wanted Internet site to help with this effort.

Medical Enforcement

In addition to current child support, DCS may enforce medical support requirements for an obligated parent to provide insurance available through the obligated parent's employer or union. Only a person receiving Medicaid can ask DCS to enforce medical support only. If you have medical coverage (not Medicaid) for the child, you may ask Washington State Child Support to enforce only child support.

Post-secondary Educational Support

Washington State Child Support will provide services for children with court orders for post-secondary educational support. The student must be enrolled in an accredited academic or vocational school, be in a regular course of study, and be in good academic standing. DCS will enforce educational support only if payable to the parent or to the child.

Tribal Relations

DCS is working with tribes to obtain agreements and establish procedures for use of tribal courts to establish and enforce child support obligations on Indian reservations. The Division of Child Support (DCS) is the state agency that administers state and federal child support laws. If you are a custodial parent, a non-custodial parent, or the custodian of a dependent child, the resource center will help you to understand DCS and the services they provide. DCS provides various services to parents and to custodians which include:

  • Paternity establishment.
  • Child support order establishment and modification.
  • Child support order enforcement.
  • Payment processing through The Washington State Support Registry.

There are twenty-nine (29) federally-recognized Indian tribes in Washington State, which are independent sovereign governments with similar status as other states and foreign nations. The DCS Tribal Relations Team (TRT) in conjunction with twenty-six statewide tribal liaisons, promote Tribal TANF and Tribal IV-D programs, negotiate intergovernmental cooperative agreements, develop tribal specific policy and procedure, and provide technical assistance and training to staff and to tribes.

When does Washington State Child Support stop providing services for my child?

DCS will provide current support services until the child emancipates, leaves the custodian's household, or goes to live with the non-custodial parent. DCS will continue to collect support arrears unless the parties reconcile. If you want DCS to stop non-assistance services when support is still payable, you must send DCS a letter. DCS must provide payment processing services if the support order makes support payable through the Washington State Support Registry.

When DCS is unable to locate the non-custodial parent or the non-custodial parent's assets for three consecutive years, DCS may close your case. You will be notified if DCS intends to close your case. You have the right to appeal the closure.

Washington state Child Support Customer Service

Division of Child Support
Central Services
P.O. Box 11520
Tacoma, Washington 98411-5520

Division of Child Support Community Relations Unit
P.O. Box 9162
Olympia WA 98507-9162
(800) 457-6202
TDD: (800)-833-6384
DCS Central Registry

For mailing of Court Orders only:

Washington State Child Support Registry
PO Box 9008
Olympia, WA 98507-9008
Fax: (360) 664-5209

For correspondence only:

Division of Washington State Child Support
P.O. Box 11520
Tacoma, Washington 98411-5520
Telephone: (360) 664-5321 or (800) 922-4306
Fax: (360) 664-5303

For payments only:

Washington State Support Registry
PO Box 45868
Olympia, WA 98504-5868

To insure accurate processing, please be sure your Social Security Number is clearly noted on your payment.

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