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Prosecuting Attorney's Office

Prosecutor: Rich Weyrich

Family Support Division FAQ's

General Questions

Q - When the Family Support Division files a case or appears in an existing case, who do they represent?

A - The Family Support Division represents the State of Washington and the best interest of the children. Each parent represents him/herself (pro se) or may be represented by a private attorney.

Q - Where is the Prosecutor’s Family Support Division located?

A - The Family Support Division is located at 1204 Cleveland Street, Mount Vernon, WA. 98273 (directly across from the Mount Vernon Post Office) Our phone number is (360)336-9461.

Q - How is child support determined?

A - Child Support is determined by the Washington State Child Support schedule. A copy of the schedule and the guidelines for filling it out can be obtained from the Superior Court Clerk’s office or on-line from the Office of the Administrator of the Courts (OAC)

Paternity Actions

Q - Why is it important to establish paternity?

A - Establishing paternity creates a legal relationship between a father and a child. Establishing a legal father for a child provides that child many important benefits. Some of those benefits include:

  • A sense of belonging because a child knows both parents.
  • If your child becomes sick the family doctor will appreciate knowing a full family medical history.
  • Your child may be eligible for government benefits such as social security or veteran’s dependant benefits.
  • Your child may qualify for medical insurance coverage through the father’s health plan and could become the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
  • Your child may also have the right to future inheritance benefits.
  • Your child will become eligible for financial support from both parents.

Q - When does the State initiate a paterinty action through the Prosecutor’s Office?

A - When a parent is or has received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance from the State of Washington, the State is required to seek reimbursement of a portion of that monetary assistance from the child’s father. If that person is unknown or his paternity has not been legally determined, the State will ask the prosecutor’s office to file a legal action to determine parentage and set a child support obligation that will be used to reimburse the State for those public assistance expenditures.

Q - How may I legally establish paternity?

A - There are 3 ways to legally establish parentage:

  1. Marriage, If the mother and biological father decide to marry before the child is born, the marriage may create what is called a presumption of paternity. Unless a parent or some other interested party later challenges that presumption, the man will be considered the legal father of the child.
  2. Paternity Affidavit, The paternity affidavit is a legal form, . The man who signs the form will be considered the legal father after the form is signed, notarized, and filed at the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics (DOH)
  3. Court, if you can not afford an attorney, you may file a parentage action on your own. The Superior Court Clerk’s office has the forms you need and the Court Facilitator can help you fill them out. You may also request paternity services from the Washington State Division of Child Support. If you want to request the State’s assistance, you must fill out the required forms and mail or deliver them to the nearest Washington State Division of Child Support office. Once the forms are received, the Division of Child Support will set up a case and refer the matter to the Prosecutor’s office in the county whose court has jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Q - If the father’s name is on the birth certificate does he have to sign a paternity affidavit?

A - Yes. While the father’s name on the birth certificate creates a strong presumption of paternity, it is not legally conclusive.

Q - When should paternity be established in court?

A - Usually, it is best to establish paternity through the courts if there is any question about the identity of the father. There may also be other reasons. For example, if either of you are unsure about signing the affidavit or the woman’s husband is unwilling to sign a denial, then establishing paternity in court may be the best option.

Q - What is a “genetic test” to determine paternity?

A - DNA is the genetic material in the cells of our body that determines our unique characteristics. This genetic material comes from our biological parents. A “Genetic Test” is the procedure scientists use to determine if a particular man contributed the father’s portion of the child’s DNA. A Q-tip is used to collect samples from the mother, possible father, and child, which are sent to a lab for analysis. It usually takes 4-6 weeks to get the results.

Q - Once paternity has been determined, how do I establish child support and resolve the parenting issues?

A - Child support and parenting issues must be addressed by the court. The only exception to this rule is that if a custodial parent asks for public assistance and there is no court order for child support, the State may set child support administratively. The administrative child support order will remain in effect until replaced by a court order. If you can not afford an attorney you can obtain the child support and parenting forms from the Superior Court Clerk’s office. You can get help filling out the forms from the Courthouse Facilitator (360-336-9469) located at the courthouse. (Note, If the Prosecutor filed the action, he will address the issue of child support in the case.)

Modification Actions

Q - Why did the Prosecutor’s office file an action to modify the child support order in my case?

A - If Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance is or has been paid to support your child(ren), the State Division of Child Support, is required to review your child support order every 3 years to determine if it’s still appropriate given the parties’ financial resources. If it’s no longer appropriate and it meets the other referral requirements, it must be sent to the Prosecutor’s office for modification or adjustment.

Q - If I’m not receiving public assistance, can I request the State’s help in modifying my child support order?

A - Yes. You must fill out the required forms and mail or deliver them to the nearest Washington Division of Child Support office. Once the Division of Child Support receives the forms, they will review the case and if it meets their modification criteria, they will forward it to the Prosecutor’s office for further legal action.

Q - If I’m not working, why is there income listed for me in the State’s child support worksheet?

A - If you are voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, income may be imputed to you based on your past earnings history, your age, or minimum wage.

Contempt Actions

Q - She doesn’t let me see the kids so why should I pay child support?

A - Your obligation to pay child support is separate from your right to exercise visitation. If there is a problem with visitation, you should go to court to get it resolved.

Q - What if I really can’t afford to pay my child support?

A - Ignoring the problem is never the solution. If you are unable to pay the court-ordered amount, you should petition the court to modify your support to an amount that is consistent with your financial resources. If you cannot afford an attorney, you may get the necessary paperwork from the Superior Court Clerk’s Office. If you need assistance filling out the forms, you can get help from the Courthouse Facilitator located in the courthouse complex.

Q - Are there any resources I can use to help me find employment?

A - The Employment Security Office (link on line) and WorkSource (link on line) both have classes and programs that are designed to help you find work.

Q - Can I file my own contempt action when the State is trying to help me collect child support?

A - Yes. However it’s imperative that you notify your DCS case worker so he/she can avoid collection activity that might interfere with your contempt case. The necessary paperwork can be obtained from the Superior Court Clerk’s office. If you need assistance filling out the forms you can get help from the Courthouse Facilitator located in the courthouse complex.

Private Domestic Relations Actions

Q - When do I have to give the Prosecutor’s Family Support Division notice of my court action?

A - If a child in your court case is or has received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance from the State or one or both parents owes past due child support to the State, you must provide the Prosecutor’s Family Support Division with notice of your court action. Some examples of court actions that involve child support issues include: Dissolution of Marriage; Legal Separation; Modification of Child Support; Establishment of Child Support and Parenting Plan; Non-Parental Custody; Modification of Custody; and Establishment of Parentage.

Q - What if I am not sure the child in my court action has or is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance?

A - If you contact our office and provide the child’s name, date of birth, and SSN we can tell you if we need to be involved in your case.

Q - Why does the Prosecuting Attorney need to be involved in my court action?

A – If the child in your court case is or has received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance from the State, the Prosecutor’s office is required to review your child support related orders to make sure that the child support amount is consistent with State law, that child support arrears owed to the State are not extinguished, and that the State’s right to seek reimbursement for public assistance expended for the benefit of the children is protected.

Q - What documents do I need to provide to the Family Support Division?

A - You will need to provide copies of: Summons & Petition; Financial Declaration(s), proof of income such as pay stubs, W-2(s), and tax returns; child support worksheet(s); and the original proposed child support order.

Q - Do I need to make an appointment for review and approval of my order?

A - No, you may drop off your documents anytime during our business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday, except holidays. You will also need to leave your name, address, and phone number.

Q - Will getting the State involved delay the completion of my court action?

A - In most cases we are able to review your documents in 3-5 days. However if we believe changes need to be made and one or more of the parties does not agree with our conclusion then a court hearing or trial will have to be scheduled to resolve the dispute.

Q - If the Division of Child Support has already set support administratively, do I still need to get a child support order in my court case?

A - Yes. Washington law requires that a child support order be entered in every court case involving the financial care and custody of a child. Administrative orders only allow the state to collect child support until an order is entered with the court.

Q - What if I don’t want a child support order?

A - As long as the child is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or medical assistance, the state will require you to enter a child support court order in your court case.

Q - What will happen if I don’t get the required State approval before getting my child support order entered with the court?

A - The Family Support Division of the Prosecutor’s office may ask the court to vacate your order and require you to pay the fees incurred in making that request.

 

Chief Family Support Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kurt Hefferline
Skagit County Family Support
P.O. Box 1226
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
Phone: (360) 416-1161
Fax: (360) 416-1163
email: prosecutor@co.skagit.wa.us