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74.20A.040  <<  74.20A.055 >>   74.20A.056

RCW 74.20A.055

Notice and finding of financial responsibility of responsible parent — Service — Hearing — Decisions — Rules.

(1) The secretary may, if there is no order that establishes the responsible parent's support obligation or specifically relieves the responsible parent of a support obligation or pursuant to an establishment of paternity under chapter 26.26 RCW, serve on the responsible parent or parents and custodial parent a notice and finding of financial responsibility requiring the parents to appear and show cause in an adjudicative proceeding why the finding of responsibility and/or the amount thereof is incorrect, should not be finally ordered, but should be rescinded or modified. This notice and finding shall relate to the support debt accrued and/or accruing under this chapter and/or RCW 26.16.205, including periodic payments to be made in the future. The hearing shall be held pursuant to this section, chapter 34.05 RCW, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the rules of the department. A custodian who has physical custody of a child has the same rights that a custodial parent has under this section.

     (2) The notice and finding of financial responsibility shall be served in the same manner prescribed for the service of a summons in a civil action or may be served on the responsible parent by certified mail, return receipt requested. The receipt shall be prima facie evidence of service. The notice shall be served upon the debtor within sixty days from the date the state assumes responsibility for the support of the dependent child or children on whose behalf support is sought. If the notice is not served within sixty days from such date, the department shall lose the right to reimbursement of payments made after the sixty-day period and before the date of notification: PROVIDED, That if the department exercises reasonable efforts to locate the debtor and is unable to do so the entire sixty-day period is tolled until such time as the debtor can be located. The notice may be served upon the custodial parent who is the nonassistance applicant or public assistance recipient by first-class mail to the last known address. If the custodial parent is not the nonassistance applicant or public assistance recipient, service shall be in the same manner as for the responsible parent.

     (3) The notice and finding of financial responsibility shall set forth the amount the department has determined the responsible parent owes, the support debt accrued and/or accruing, and periodic payments to be made in the future. The notice and finding shall also include:

     (a) A statement of the name of the custodial parent and the name of the child or children for whom support is sought;

     (b) A statement of the amount of periodic future support payments as to which financial responsibility is alleged;

     (c) A statement that the responsible parent or custodial parent may object to all or any part of the notice and finding, and file an application for an adjudicative proceeding to show cause why the terms set forth in the notice should not be ordered;

     (d) A statement that, if neither the responsible parent nor the custodial parent files in a timely fashion an application for an adjudicative proceeding, the support debt and payments stated in the notice and finding, including periodic support payments in the future, shall be assessed and determined and ordered by the department and that this debt and amounts due under the notice shall be subject to collection action;

     (e) A statement that the property of the debtor, without further advance notice or hearing, will be subject to lien and foreclosure, distraint, seizure and sale, order to withhold and deliver, notice of payroll deduction or other collection action to satisfy the debt and enforce the support obligation established under the notice;

     (f) A statement that either or both parents are responsible for providing health insurance for his or her child if coverage that can be extended to cover the child either through private health insurance which is accessible to the child or through coverage that is or becomes available to the parent through employment or is union-related, or for paying a monthly payment toward the premium if no such coverage is available, as provided under RCW 26.09.105.

     (4) A responsible parent or custodial parent who objects to the notice and finding of financial responsibility may file an application for an adjudicative proceeding within twenty days of the date of service of the notice or thereafter as provided under this subsection.

     (a) If the responsible parent or custodial parent files the application within twenty days, the office of administrative hearings shall schedule an adjudicative proceeding to hear the parent's or parents' objection and determine the support obligation for the entire period covered by the notice and finding of financial responsibility. The filing of the application stays collection action pending the entry of a final administrative order;

     (b) If both the responsible parent and the custodial parent fail to file an application within twenty days, the notice and finding shall become a final administrative order. The amounts for current and future support and the support debt stated in the notice are final and subject to collection, except as provided under (c) and (d) of this subsection;

     (c) If the responsible parent or custodial parent files the application more than twenty days after, but within one year of the date of service, the office of administrative hearings shall schedule an adjudicative proceeding to hear the parent's or parents' objection and determine the support obligation for the entire period covered by the notice and finding of financial responsibility. The filing of the application does not stay further collection action, pending the entry of a final administrative order, and does not affect any prior collection action;

     (d) If the responsible parent or custodial parent files the application more than one year after the date of service, the office of administrative hearings shall schedule an adjudicative proceeding at which the parent who requested the late hearing must show good cause for failure to file a timely application. The filing of the application does not stay future collection action and does not affect prior collection action:

     (i) If the presiding officer finds that good cause exists, the presiding officer shall proceed to hear the parent's objection to the notice and determine the support obligation;

     (ii) If the presiding officer finds that good cause does not exist, the presiding officer shall treat the application as a petition for prospective modification of the amount for current and future support established under the notice and finding. In the modification proceeding, the presiding officer shall set current and future support under chapter 26.19 RCW. The petitioning parent need show neither good cause nor a substantial change of circumstances to justify modification of current and future support;

     (e) If the responsible parent's support obligation was based upon imputed median net income, the grant standard, or the family need standard, the division of child support may file an application for adjudicative proceeding more than twenty days after the date of service of the notice. The office of administrative hearings shall schedule an adjudicative proceeding and provide notice of the hearing to the responsible parent and the custodial parent. The presiding officer shall determine the support obligation for the entire period covered by the notice, based upon credible evidence presented by the division of child support, the responsible parent, or the custodial parent, or may determine that the support obligation set forth in the notice is correct. The division of child support demonstrates good cause by showing that the responsible parent's support obligation was based upon imputed median net income, the grant standard, or the family need standard. The filing of the application by the division of child support does not stay further collection action, pending the entry of a final administrative order, and does not affect any prior collection action.

     (f) The department shall retain and/or shall not refund support money collected more than twenty days after the date of service of the notice. Money withheld as the result of collection action shall be delivered to the department. The department shall distribute such money, as provided in published rules.

     (5) If an application for an adjudicative proceeding is filed, the presiding or reviewing officer shall determine the past liability and responsibility, if any, of the alleged responsible parent and shall also determine the amount of periodic payments to be made in the future, which amount is not limited by the amount of any public assistance payment made to or for the benefit of the child. If deviating from the child support schedule in making these determinations, the presiding or reviewing officer shall apply the standards contained in the child support schedule and enter written findings of fact supporting the deviation.

     (6) If either the responsible parent or the custodial parent fails to attend or participate in the hearing or other stage of an adjudicative proceeding, upon a showing of valid service, the presiding officer shall enter an order of default against each party who did not appear and may enter an administrative order declaring the support debt and payment provisions stated in the notice and finding of financial responsibility to be assessed and determined and subject to collection action. The parties who appear may enter an agreed settlement or consent order, which may be different than the terms of the department's notice. Any party who appears may choose to proceed to the hearing, after the conclusion of which the presiding officer or reviewing officer may enter an order that is different than the terms stated in the notice, if the obligation is supported by credible evidence presented by any party at the hearing.

     (7) The final administrative order establishing liability and/or future periodic support payments shall be superseded upon entry of a superior court order for support to the extent the superior court order is inconsistent with the administrative order.

     (8) Debts determined pursuant to this section, accrued and not paid, are subject to collection action under this chapter without further necessity of action by a presiding or reviewing officer.

     (9) The department has rule-making authority to enact rules consistent with 42 U.S.C. Sec. 652(f) and 42 U.S.C. Sec. 666(a)(19) as amended by section 7307 of the deficit reduction act of 2005. Additionally, the department has rule-making authority to implement regulations required under 45 C.F.R. Parts 302, 303, 304, 305, and 308.

[2009 c 476 § 7; 2007 c 143 § 8; 2002 c 199 § 5; 1997 c 58 § 940; 1996 c 21 § 1; 1991 c 367 § 46; 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 § 21; 1989 c 175 § 152; 1988 c 275 § 10; 1982 c 189 § 8; 1979 ex.s. c 171 § 12; 1973 1st ex.s. c 183 § 25.]

Notes:

     Effective date -- 2009 c 476: See note following RCW 26.09.105.

     Severability -- 2007 c 143: See note following RCW 26.18.170.

     Short title -- Part headings, captions, table of contents not law -- Exemptions and waivers from federal law -- Conflict with federal requirements -- Severability -- 1997 c 58: See RCW 74.08A.900 through 74.08A.904.

     Severability -- Effective date -- Captions not law -- 1991 c 367:See notes following RCW 26.09.015.

     Effective dates -- Severability -- 1990 1st ex.s. c 2: See notes following RCW 26.09.100.

     Effective date -- 1989 c 175: See note following RCW 34.05.010.

     Effective dates -- Severability -- 1988 c 275: See notes following RCW 26.19.001.

     Effective date -- 1982 c 189: See note following RCW 34.12.020.

     Severability -- 1979 ex.s. c 171: See note following RCW 74.20.300.