Getting child support in Washington can be a challenge if you are unsure where the father of your child lives. While it may seem daunting, there are steps you can take to ensure that you receive the support you and your child need.
Step 1: File a Petition for Child Support
The first step in getting child support in Washington is to file a petition with the court. In this petition, you will need to provide your name and contact information, the father’s name and his contact information (if known), such as their Social Security number, any recent employer’s name and address, and/or the names, addresses, and phone numbers for any friends or relatives. The court will then issue an order for the father to appear and testify about his ability to provide financial support for your child.
Step 2: File a Motion for Default Judgment
If the father does not appear in court for the hearing after being served with the petition, you can file a motion for a default judgment. This will allow the court to issue a child support order without the father being present. The order will be based on the information you provided.
Step 3: Contact DSHS
Once the court has issued a child support order, you should contact the Division of Child Support (DCS). This division of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) will help you enforce the court order and collect the payments. In addition, they can provide resources and assistance in locating the father if necessary.
Other options include hiring a private investigator if you have the financial resources, using social media, and contacting friends or relatives of the child’s father to attempt to locate him.
What Happens if My Child’s Father Cannot be Found?
If the child support office cannot locate your child’s father, it does not necessarily mean you cannot receive financial support. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program provides cash assistance to low-income families separate from the child support enforcement program. However, if you receive TANF and DSHS finds the father, any child support payments you receive must be used to reimburse the state for the TANF benefits you already received. This is known as “assignment of support” and is required under federal law as a condition of receiving TANF.
What Happens if My Child’s Father Is Found and Can Pay Child Support, but He Won’t?
If your child’s father has been located and has the ability to pay child support but refuses to do so, there are legal steps you can take to enforce the child support order. DCS can take enforcement actions such as wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, and suspending their driver’s license or professional licenses. In addition, if the child support order was established through a court order, you can file a motion to enforce the order and have him held in contempt of court, which could result in fines, community service, or even jail time.
You may also want to consider hiring a Spokane Child Support Attorney to help you navigate the legal process of enforcing the child support order. They can represent you in court and advocate for your rights and your child’s best interest.