When you decide to divorce or you have a child outside of marriage, arranging legal child support ensures that the child has his or her financial needs met by both parents. Understanding this process helps families access the required resources.
Review the steps to request child support services in Washington state.
Enrolling in support services
A custodial parent must fax or mail a paper form to request child support assistance from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. You must sign the form and include all required documentation, such as financial details. The agency will contact you within 10 days. Depending on your case, DSHS will issue a child support order and can assist with locating the child’s other parent if necessary. They can also help establish legal paternity for the child’s biological father.
Receiving child support
DSHS will review your case and determine a child support amount based on both parents’ wages and expenses. If the noncustodial parent does not have a job, the state can make a support order based on his or her projected wages with a job. DSHS can also place liens on homes and other property as well as garnish salaries, bank accounts and tax returns to ensure payment of child support.
Parents can also agree on a child support arrangement outside of court when they divorce. However, DSHS cannot legally enforce such an order if either parent stops paying support.
Either parent can request a change in child support payments if financial circumstances change. Examples include a change in income, household size or ability to work.