A child support order in Washington is a legal obligation. If the non-custodial parent doesn't pay, he or she can be held in contempt and fined or sent to jail. Also, his or her license may be suspended and any professional license. A parent can also have criminal charges brought against them if nonpayment continues for an extended period of time.
Enforcement of Court Ordered Washington Child Support
The official child support enforcement agency for the State of Washington is the Division of Child Support (DCS). The Washington Division of Child Support is required by federal law to provide child support enforcement services free of charge and is funded by the federal government and the State of Washington.
What if the noncustodial parent lives on an Indian Reservation or is employed by a Tribal enterprise or an Indian-owned business located on a reservation or trust land?
DCS works with tribal governments to address those cases. DCS and the State Tribal Relations Unit work together to negotiate agreements and processes with Indian tribes. Some agreements include referring cases to the tribe or tribal court for the establishment or enforcement of child support.
If the court decides the non-custodial parent could pay some or all of the amount owed, the payer can be held in contempt. Penalties for contempt may include any of the enforcement methods listed here (like suspending a driver’s license), plus fines, jail time, and other penalties. Additionally, the non-paying can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and face jail or prison time.
Modifying an Order
If a parent is having problems making payments, he or she should contact the court immediately. The parent can always seek to modify their existing support order. This will require going back to court and explaining to the judge why you can’t make your payments. Only a judge can change the amount you owe under a support order.
The following table highlights the main provisions of Washington's child support enforcement laws.
|Code Section||Chapter 26.18 RCW et seq.|
|Who is Responsible?||Both Parents|
|Agencies||Division of Child Support (DCS)|
|Interest on Missed Child Support Payments||12 percent|
If the non-custodial parent moves out of Washington, the support order can still be enforced in any other U.S. state under the Uniform Federal Family Support Act. If you need help locating the other parent, the federal government has a Federal Parent Locator Service .
Child support enforcement laws are complicated. You may wish to contact a family law attorney in your area.
Contact a qualified attorney.