Child Support Enforcement in Washington

Posted On April 11, 2022 Child Support,Children,Family Law

A child support order is a legal obligation in Washington, which means failing to pay can result in penalties. In addition, the state offers multiple enforcement methods for a custodial parent to utilize for collecting missed or late payments. 

The Division of Child Support (DCS)

When a child support order is put in place, the custodial parent can choose to have payments go through the Division of Child Support (DCS) at any point. By using DCS, the non-custodial parent ordered to pay child support must submit their payments to the DCS that then records and distributes the funds to the custodial parent. The DCS also provides free child support enforcement. If after a specified grace period has ended, the DCS will automatically take action in an attempt to collect the missed or late payments on your behalf. To do so, they can: 

  • Garnish Wages: DCS can send an Income Withholding for Support or Order to Withhold and Deliver form to the parent’s employer. 
  • Lien on Assets: A lien can be filed to seize all or part of the parent’s personal property, vehicles, or real estate. 
  • Private Collection Agency: The case can be turned over for a private collection agency to pursue the debt. 
  • License Suspension: DCS can ask licensing authorities to suspend or deny renewal on the parent’s driver’s and other licenses (e.g., business, hunting, recreational, etc.)
  • Garnish the parent’s bank accounts. 
  • Contempt Proceedings: DCS may refer the case to a Prosecuting Attorney for contempt proceedings. 
  • Criminal Charges: DCS may refer the case to a U.S. Attorney for criminal non-support. 
  • Intercept Taxes: Any income tax refund or other payment owed to the parent can be intercepted. DCS can also request the government to revoke or deny the renewal of a U.S. passport. 
  • Refer to the case to credit reporting agencies. 
  • Take other necessary withholding actions. 

In many cases, hiring an experienced Spokane family law attorney is all that is needed to demonstrate how serious you are about enforcing the child support order. 

Contempt Motion

Another option to enforce a child support order is to initiate a contempt action. However, you will have to prove contempt. That involves providing evidence of: 

  • A valid child support court order;
  • The other party having knowledge of the child support order; 
  • The missed payments;
  • Having provided notice of the contempt hearing; and, 
  • Criminal prosecution is an appropriate solution. 

If you can successfully prove the non-custodial parent could pay some or all of the amount owed, they can be held in contempt. You do not have to provide evidence that non-payment was deliberate, but simply that it could have been paid and was not. The penalties associated with failing to comply with a judge’s order can result in both fines and/or jail time. The fines are often based on the extent of the violations. The non-custodial parent may also be responsible for reimbursing court costs and your attorney’s fees. 

If you or a loved one is having trouble collecting child support payments, schedule a free consultation with our Spokane child support attorney. The attorneys at Twyford Law Office will help you recover the money you are owed. 

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