You’ve tried to explain your situation to your Support Enforcement Officer (SEO), but you can tell he just isn’t hearing your side of the story. Your wages are being given to your ex for back child support payments, and you’ve just been told you could have your passport and license revoked if you don’t pay your debt in full. Is there any way you can go up the ladder to discuss the problem?

When to File a Grievance Against a Support Enforcement Officer in WA

Any action the SEO takes must have been ordered by the state Division of Child Support (DCS). If you want to contest any action, you will have to go through a number of steps first, including:

  • Ask your SEO questions – Your SEO is the person assigned to the case by the DCS. Explain what your problem is and ask specifically what can be done to correct the problem.
  • Request an administrative hearing – If the SEO cannot resolve your problem and none of the options offered will work, you may ask DCS for a hearing.
  • Speak to the Lead Worker – If your request for a hearing is denied, contact your SEO's Lead Worker to discuss additional options.
  • Request a Conference Board – If the Lead Worker cannot help you, speak to a Supervisor to issue a Conference Board Request.
  • Fill out your request in full – You will receive the Conference Board Request by mail. Describe your grievance as thoroughly as possible. You may wish to attach copies of receipts or statements as evidence. When it is complete and has been checked for errors, send it to the DCS Field Office overseeing your case.
  • DCS will notify you when and where the Conference Board is to be held – You may appear in person, or rely on DCS to issue its decision based on your statement and information in your case record.
  • DCS will send you written notice of the Conference Board decision, and your SEO will be bound to honor whatever the decision rules.

Why Did DCS Rule Against Me?

Many DCS actions are not controlled by the agency, but by federal child support laws. For example, the DCS has little influence over "automated actions," such as IRS certification, passport denial, and reporting child support debt to credit bureaus.

Federal law also requires support orders to contain wage withholding language, and requires DCS to initiate wage withholding no later than 3 days after receiving a support order. As a result, any financial grievances you have will likely mean an appearance in court to reduce the amount of each monthly payment. To find out which child support options may benefit you, click the link on this page to download our FREE book, The Thinking Man's Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
Connect with me
Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington