When parents divorce, the child normally lives with one of the parents while the other parents pays child support. Child support orders transfer the earnings of one parent to the other, so that the child is financially supported via the parents’ combined wealth.

How does child support work?

Child support is usually paid monthly and can be paid directly to the other parent or to child services. A Superior Court judge sets the monthly amount. If the parent refuses to pay the amount stipulated, the Division of Child Services (DCS) may send the parent you a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR). If the parent disagrees with what the NFFR says they owe, they can ask for a hearing. DCS calls it an “adjudicative proceeding”. There is usually a window of twenty days from the day the NFFR was sent to turn in your appeal.
If the parent appeals within the twenty days, DCS will not collect child support from them while the appeal is pending but they will collect child support if the appeal is not filed within the first twenty days.

How much does child support cost?

DCS can take up to 50% of the parent’s monthly take-home pay for child support. If you get need-based government benefits, such as unemployment benefits, Social Security Disability or Workers Comp, DCS can take up to 50% of that monthly payment.

Can I lower the amount collected?

Maybe. DCS will take less if the amount taken will cause the parent to experience hardship. If the parent also owes the state back support, the money can be reduced. The parent must, however, show proof of financial difficulty before the fees may be reduced.

Paternity issues

If a parent is unsure whether they are the biological father of the child, they will be required to carry out a paternity test. The Superior Court can resolve parentage in a paternity case. The court may also address custody, visitation, and child support.

Statute of Limitations

The Statute of Limitations is a legal time limit. The statute allows DCS ten years from the date the youngest child in the order turns eighteen to collect unpaid child support. DCS cannot go after any back support not collected by the time the youngest child turns twenty-eight.

Notice of Support Debt (NSD)

If you owe an accumulated amount of money on child support, DCS may send you this notice. If you disagree with an NSD, you can ask for a Conference Board or a modification. Or better still, go to court. DCS may give you credit for payments you can prove you paid. DCS cannot ignore or change the court-ordered support amount. DCS can decide not to collect court-ordered support.

Notice of Support Owed (NOSO)

DCS uses a NOSO to set a monthly child support obligation when a court orders support without setting an amount. If you disagree with the suggested amount in a NOSO, you should ask for an administrative hearing OR set up a court hearing and notify DCS within twenty days.

Chad Foster is a trusted family law and divorce lawyer serving Snohomish and King counties with an office in Bothell. Contact us today to discuss your legal issue.

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