Is There a Way to Force Your Ex to Pay Back Child Support Payments in WA?

You’ve given your ex-husband plenty of chances to come through with his child support payments, but all you’ve gotten is a list of excuses. You were understanding when he fell on hard times, even when he said he was going to adjust the amount of the payment—but now he’s avoiding you completely. What can you do to make sure your child is taken care of?

DCS Can Help You Get the Payments You Need

If your spouse is behind on his payments, the state Division of Child Support (DCS) can take action to enforce child support payments in WA, including:

  • Income withholding (garnishing your ex’s wages)
  • Collecting your ex’s unemployment benefits
  • Redirect state worker’s compensation benefits to your child support account
  • Redirect your ex’s monthly unprotected pensions
  • Garnish any non-earned funds that are payable to your ex
  • Repossess any settlements your ex has won as the result of a lawsuit
  • Redirect funds your ex may be holding in a financial institution
  • File a lien with county auditors for your ex’s real estate or personal property
  • File a lien against your ex’s vehicles or watercraft licensed through the Department of Licensing
  • Repossess any property your ex may have in safety deposit boxes
  • Seize and sell any of your ex’s vehicles or personal property at a public auction
  • Redirect your ex’s federal IRS income tax refunds and other federal funds to your child support account

In most cases, DCS can begin taking actions on the custodial parent’s behalf almost immediately. Under federal law, DCS must file a lien on all back support debts and begin wage withholding within 3 days after receiving the support order. At most, DCS must begin income withholding within 15 days from date the initial payment was due.

If your ex continues to be delinquent on his payments, federal law also requires additional actions including:

  • Alerting the debt to credit reporting agencies
  • Referring your case to a court for judicial enforcement
  • Request suspension of your ex’s driver’s license (or other professional and recreational licenses)
  • Request non-renewal of your ex’s U.S. Passport
  • Post your ex’s name to the DCS Most Wanted website

To find out if you may be able to take legal action against your ex-spouse for non-payment of debts, click the link at the top of this page to begin reading our FREE book, The Savvy Woman's Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny