Domestic Violence Information

When most people hear the words "domestic violence," they think of physical violence, but abuse can take many forms. Those who cause harm use many routes to gain control over the other, from emotional abuse to monitoring to controlling finances. Child support could be one way that a person uses to harm or maintain control over another person.

If you have been affected by domestic violence, help is available to sort out the advantages and disadvantages of using the child support system and your options within that system. For information and resources related to domestic violence, see the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence website. You can see all statewide domestic violence programs listed by county or city here. For 24/7 anonymous, confidential help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Paths for protection:

Good Cause

If you have experienced domestic violence and you believe receiving child support services will put you or your child in danger, you may have a good reason why you do not want child support services. The Department of Social and Health Services calls this reason "good cause" or "good cause not to cooperate with the Division of Child Support."

If it is ever unsafe to collect child support, you can claim good cause through the Community Services Office. You can do this by calling your local CSO, where they will lead you through the process of filing a claim. If the CSO grants your good cause, one of the following will occur:

  1. DCS will close your case without taking any further action (this is called Good Cause Level A).
  2. DCS will continue to work on your case, but they will not require you help in any way and you cannot get into trouble or lose any benefits for not cooperating (this is called Good Cause Level B).

If the CSO denies your good cause claim, DCS will hold off for at least 90 days in case you decide to appeal the CSO decision.  If you chose to appeal, DCS will not work your case until a final decision is made.

As long as you get TANF or medical assistance, the CSO will contact you about every six months to review your good cause claim. If your circumstances change, you may decide that it is relatively safe to collect child support. You can withdraw your good cause claim and DCS can begin collecting support. Talk to your CSO worker if you want to withdraw your good cause claim.


Address protections

Firstly, it’s important to note that parents can use any address they’d like to communicate with DCS. If you don’t feel safe using your home address, you can use one of a relative, a friend, or other person. Either party to a child support order can ask DCS to release the address of the other party. This request must be in writing and must be for a reason specified by law. DCS will deny this request if they have information that suggests the address release may be harmful to the parent or child.

If DCS records do not have information that would make them deny the request, DCS handles the request based on the status of the person whose address is requested.

  • When the noncustodial parent asks for the address of the custodial parent, DCS sends a notice to the custodial parent about the request. The custodial parent has 30 days to:
    • Allow release of the address,
    • Ask for an administrative hearing to stop the release of your address, 
    • Give DCS a court order stopping DCS from releasing the address.

Sometimes the evidence given with the hearing request allows DCS to deny the request for disclosure. If DCS does not get a response from the custodial parent, they release the address after the 30 days expires. When the custodial parent asks for the noncustodial parent's address, DCS releases the address without notice to the noncustodial parent unless the noncustodial parent previously asked DCS to send them a notice before releasing their address information.

  • If the noncustodial parent told DCS they have concerns about releasing their address information, DCS follows the same notice procedure it does for a request for the custodial parent's address.



There are many resources available for victims and survivors of domestic violence around the state. The Economic Services Administration gives information about resources both inside and outside of DSHS online here.

If you have questions about domestic violence and how it may relate to your child support case, contact the DCS domestic violence liaison, Tom Atkinson. The DCS Community Relations Team also can help guide you through questions you may have about good cause, address protections and other topics that relate to domestic violence and child support.

If you are interested in the Secretary of State's Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), you can find information about ACP at

For online information about Washington state laws and agency regulations:

Special Protections for Domestic Violence Victims:
Good Cause Form 

Representation at Hearings:
Who represents you during the hearing process?