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Child support and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Learn when and how the Prosecuting Attorney's Office gets involved in changes/modifications and payment and collection of child support.

When you apply for parentage and child support services, you are applying to the Division of Child Support (DCS), a part of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. For cases in King County, DCS will then ask the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to work on the case as the attorney. We are the attorney for DCS, and not for anyone else involved in your case.

Child support services through the state of Washington

To ask for child support services, you must first apply through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

We can't help you complete your paperwork. We ask that you do your best to complete it and make sure you sign on all your signature lines.

Changing child support

Why make changes to child support?

Parents' finances can change over time as a child grows up. If your current order of child support was entered more than 24 months ago and your income changes, your case may be ready for a review. Contact DCS to request the review of a child support case. This is a free service.

Other reasons why you might want to make changes to child support include:

  • Unemployment
    • We know it is stressful to be in between jobs, and this can affect the whole family. Being unemployed is not grounds for modifying your child support. But, if you or the other parent has changed jobs since your original child support order was entered, your case may be ready for review.
    • If you have a disability that results in long-term unemployment, you can modify your child support order. You will need documented, medical proof of the disability and any benefits you receive.
  • Going back to school
    • If a parent enrolls in school full-time and does not have income, the laws do not excuse them from paying child support. You will be expected to pay child support based on your last known wages or what the law says you are able to earn.
  • Having a baby with a new partner
    • A paying parent may argue for a small reduction in child support (called a deviation) if they are supporting another biological child. It is up to the court to decide to grant this. The court considers other factors such as the:
      • Ages of all the children
      • Total circumstances of both households
      • Financial situations of the adults
    • If you believe your case needs a deviation, it is your responsibility to request it in writing prior to your hearing. You will need to provide birth certificates for the children involved. You must also provide financial information for your new partner. 

If you decide you want to ask for your child support order to be changed, you will need to send in DCS form 9-741 from DSHS along with:

You can see what financial information is required in Local Family Law Rule 10.

Types of cases

Once DCS asks the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to work on a case, we will review it to determine if it meets our criteria to file a court case to change the amount of child support. We will review the information you supply and may ask you to give us more or updated information. If our office declines to file a case, you have options. You can proceed on your own using Family Law instructions or ask for review at a later time.

Motion for Adjustment of Support

These cases are handled in a more streamlined manner. The Court can review updated incomes for the parties and draft new orders with a new support amount and share of expenses. We cannot address tax exemptions or college costs in this hearing. These issues will remain as they are in your original order. Your adjustment hearing will take place about 6 weeks after the motion is filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Only child support orders issued by King County may be adjusted.

Petition for Modification

The court can review and change many parts of your child support order, not just the amount of child support and share of extra expenses. Modification cases take longer than adjustments to complete. Your hearing date will be about 3 months after the Prosecutor’s Office files the case. 

  • The court can review and change many parts of your child support order, not just the amount of child support and share of extra expenses. If you make a written request, the court may change things like who may claim the child on their tax return, college costs, and who provides health insurance for the child.
  • Your case must be filed this way if your current Order of Child Support is from outside King County and/or the state of Washington. 
  • Petitions for Modification are also preferred if one or both parties is self-employed. This allows additional time for the exchange of discovery.

We need correct addresses to file your case

We must have current mailing addresses for both parties or we cannot file your case. As the case moves forward, you will receive letters on the status of your case. This is also how we request additional information from you.

You may also provide an email address where the court, other party, and our office can reach you. You may also choose to sign up to send and receive court papers through the King County E-filing System

You must disclose all income and resources

Each parent must disclose all income and resources of their households. The opposing party will receive copies of everything you submit. It is your responsibility to black out all of your social security numbers, bank account statement numbers, and other personal identifying information. 

History of domestic violence

If there is a history of domestic violence in your case, please take steps to protect yourself. When filling out your paperwork, it is your responsibility to black out any address or identifying information you do not want shared. If you want to provide an alternate address to use for your court case, like a friend or relative’s address or a PO Box, please provide that address to us in writing. Court is held on the Zoom platform and you are not required to appear in person in the courtroom.


Family law motion hearings, such as motions to adjust child support, are held on Zoom. If you are appearing before a judge (for a pretrial hearing, modification of child support trial by affidavit, or other trial) the court will provide the Zoom link separately.

Learn how to appear for court

Collecting and paying child support

If a parent has not paid their child support in more than 3 months and the Division of Child Support (DCS) is not able to get the parent to pay, DCS may refer the case to us. A Prosecuting Attorney may then file a civil contempt case.

Navigator Program

The child support system can be confusing. Our team at the Prosecuting Attorney’s office has a paralegal to help you “navigate" to your goals.

A navigator may be able to help you:

  • Look for employment, educational, and training opportunities
  • Connect with community partners who assist with benefits like housing, food, and utilities
  • Gather documents needed for modifications and conference boards

Eligibility and participation

You may be able to get help if you have a case with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office because you are not paying your child support. Participation is voluntary. The prosecutor will work with you and your attorney (if you have one) to see if you should take part.

If you have to pay child support but do not have a case at the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, you may be eligible for similar services through the Division of Child Support’s Alternative Solutions Program.