Paying Child Support for Your Stepchild

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You Can Be Ordered to Pay Stepchild Support

Even if You Did Not Adopt or Father a Child, You Could Still Pay


Yes – You can be ordered to pay support for your stepchild.

Even if you did not adopt your wife’s children, you can be ordered to pay child support for those children.

And that order can be issued without legal notice to you, and without a Court hearing.


Many stepfathers become closely attached to their stepchildren, and gladly pay support for those children after divorce. Those fathers want to stay involved with the children, and do not mind providing some voluntary financial assistance. Unfortunately, many stepfathers and stepchildren do not develop a good relationship. Often they do not even like each other. Those stepfathers are going to pay support anyway.


Worst Case Scenario: Child Support for Stepchildren

If Your Significant Other’s Kids Live with You, You Could Pay Support


RCW 26.16.205 authorizes the Washington State Division of Child Support (DCS) of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to issue an “administrative” child support order.

DCS can issue an order that you pay support not only for your step children, but also for the support of your “live-in” girlfriend’s children.

All your wife has to do is go down to the DCS office, or go online, and claim a need for support of her minor children, or even adult children that are still attending school. She is the sole source of the information provided to DCS to determine your support obligation. She provides your income information. If the Division does not have information on your income, it simply “imputes” (guesses) an amount of income to you based on the average earnings of a person in your occupation or the median net income from the federal census data.

DCS then mails you a “Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility” and “Notice of Support Debt”.

These child support orders are entered without anyone ever talking to you.

These orders are entered against you before your wife has even filed for divorce.

No Judge or Court is involved.

These are “administrative” support orders are issued by DSHS employees.

If you disagree with being ordered to pay support for the stepchildren, you can appeal for a review of the administrative support order.


The problem is that you have to appeal to the same government division that issued the order, DCS. If you disagree with DCS’s review, you can appeal again. This time your appeal will go the Office of Administrative Hearings, another government agency. Still no Judge or Court is involved. During all of this appealing, you still owe the child support.


If you fail to pay the stepchild support as ordered, DCS can;

  1. Garnish your wages
  2. Seize your bank accounts
  3. Attach your property
  4. Suspend your driver’s license
  5. Turn you over to a collection agency


In case you think this is a rare and crazy event, the most recent report disclosed that DCS had 344,972 open cases and 1,670 employees working on those cases.

The State is serious about these administrative child support orders.

So be advised, if your wife or girlfriend brings her child into your home, you may end up paying support for that child.


Related Article: Washington State Child Support Formula is Not Infallible 


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