General Child Support Hearing Information

General Hearing Information

Why am I having a child support hearing?

You are having a hearing because:

  • You or the other party disagrees with a notice from Division of Child Support (DCS) or
  • DCS wants to increase or decrease your child support.

Your hearing is held by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) which is an independent state agency. OAH will assign an administrative law judge (judge) to hear your case.

What can a judge do in a child support hearing?

The judge can resolve disagreements about how much you pay in child support and whether it should change.

The judge cannot change a court order regarding child support. The judge cannot make any decisions about legal custody or visitation. The judge cannot decide which parent can claim the child as a tax exemption. You have to go to superior court to resolve these issues.

Who attends the hearing?

In child support hearings, the people who attend are the:

  • DCS Representative (a staff attorney called a Claims Officer)
  • Noncustodial parent (NCP)
  • Custodial parent (CP)
  • Witnesses
  • Representatives

If you have a witness you need to let the DCS Representative know. You may ask to have someone attend as a support person.

Do I need a lawyer?

Most people who attend child support hearings represent themselves. You may choose to have a lawyer, family member, or friend represent you as long as they do not work for DSHS. The state will not pay for your lawyer.

Can I change the hearing date?

You can change the hearing date if you have a good reason. You must call the DCS Representative as soon as possible if you need to change the date or time of your hearing. The judge will decide whether to grant your request. If your hearing date changes, OAH will send you another notice with a new date and time.

What if I need an interpreter?

If you want an interpreter, click Request Interpreter or call the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) as soon as possible. The state will pay for the interpreter. Family members and friends cannot be your interpreter at the hearing.

For a free translation of OAH documents, call (360) 407-2700 or (800) 583-8271.

What if I have a disability and require an accommodation?

If you or any of your witnesses have a disability and require an accommodation to participate, contact OAH as soon as possible. You will need to tell OAH about how the disability effects the ability to participate and describe how we can help by accommodating the need so you can access our facilities and services.

Click Accommodation Request to request an accommodation or call OAH at 360-407-2700 or 800-583-8271.

Do I have to participate in the hearing?

You should participate if you want the judge to hear your side of the story. If you do not participate in the hearing, the judge may make a decision without any information from you. The judge may dismiss your request for a hearing and the DCS notice will be final.

Can I keep my personal information private?

In a child support hearing, you can keep some information private or confidential. This includes you or your child’s Social Security number, your address, phone number, the name of your employer, and your child’s school and day care information. If you do not want anyone else to have this information, you must black it out from all documents you send in for the hearing. During the hearing, you can decide to share this information.

What are the steps in a hearing process?

Click to see the typical steps in a DCS hearing process.