Skip to main content

Safely Pursuing Child Support

Help is available 24/7 from the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or StrongHearts Native Helpline 1-844-762-8483.

Is this Domestic Violence (DV)?

When most people hear the words “domestic violence,” they think of physical or sexual abuse. Some abusers never physically attack their victims. They may use threats, shame, insults, and isolation. Abusers also use resources to control by denying access to money, a car, a telephone, or legal documents—making it hard to leave or stay away. Abusers can also use threats about kids, custody, or child support as a way to maintain control.

Why is Domestic Violence important when accessing child support?

For many domestic violence victims, child support represents an opportunity to establish and maintain economic independence from an abusive partner. At the same time, the child support process may introduce safety concerns for some victims. 

Many parents want or need child support but worry about getting child support safely. You are not alone. Did you know that research finds that 90% of domestic violence victims want to pursue child support if they can do so safely?

This page will assist victims of domestic violence in determining whether or not child support is a safe option for them to pursue.

What will happen in the child support process?

During the process, the Office of Child Support (OCS) has a range of resources available to help parents safely and confidentially obtain child support. 

What May Happen Safety Modifications
Notice To the Other Parent
The other parent will receive a notice/letter when a case is opened with the OCS.

When completing an application for the services of the OCS, request to be contacted before the case opens.

Your Address
Your address might be on court forms sent to the other parent or the court.
  • Request we flag your case in our system to indicate you have safety concerns.
  • Request your physical address not be shared by:
    • Establishment of a PO Box.
    • Request for an Order of Non-Disclosure.
    • Safe at Home program.
    • Local DV Program PO Box.
In-Office Meetings
You may be asked to meet with the other parent in the child support office. Meeting with the other parent is optional so be sure to tell your caseworker if you are not comfortable with this.
  • If you do feel comfortable meeting with the other parent with safety modifications, you could:
    • Request to meet separately.
    • Request to participate in a meeting by phone or via virtual meeting/video conference.
    • Bring a friend, support person, or DV advocate.
The Courts
You may have to go to court to work out the details of the child support order.
  • Request your OCS caseworker arrange for a security escort at the courthouse.
  • Request information about local DV Advocacy Groups.
  • Bring a friend, support person, or DV advocate.
  • Request to attend hearing via phone or video conference.
  • Request separate waiting areas and separate meeting rooms.

Custody and Visitation

You may have to go to court to discuss a parenting plan with the other parent.

Learn what to expect if you and the other parent cannot agree on child custody (parental rights and responsibilities) and visitation (parent-child contact) and whether you may be able to get free legal help if you or your child experience abuse. 

  • For visitation orders, consider requesting the exchange of children at a safe exchange site or via a neutral third party, if needed.
  • The court may also order supervised visitation. Supervised visits can be held at a professional facility that has trained staff to supervise visits, or with a third party who can supervise visits.
Orders and Collection of Child Support
Your cooperation may be required to enforce child support orders in Court.
  • Discuss a possible delay or modification of enforcement actions.
  • Request a modification of the order.
  • Request to no longer receive services from OCS.

Please keep in mind that if your case closes with OCS, it does not mean that your child support order ends. Any order in place would remain unless/until ended or changed by the Court.

Is there a protection order issued against your current or former partner?

If so, show it to agency workers EVERY TIME you visit a public assistance, child support, or other public benefits office. You don’t have to have a protection order for public agencies to provide safety options for their services. Tell agency workers about ANY safety concerns you have. Agency workers should keep your information confidential, with some exceptions for information about child abuse or if you tell them you are in immediate danger. Ask how they will keep any information you share confidential.

REMEMBER: You can update information about safety at any time. Even if you’ve already told agency staff that you didn’t have safety concerns, things change, and we want to help you stay safe. Provide information about your safety concerns EVERY TIME you contact an agency.

If you don't want child support because of safety concerns, we want you to know your options.

For some people, getting child support may be dangerous. There are options available to help protect you. If pursuing child support from the other parent could put you or your children at risk of physical or emotional harm even with safety precautions, you may be able to: 

Request a waiver from participating in the child support process if you are applying for or are receiving Reach Up assistance:

If you have safety concerns for you or your child(ren) from the other parent, you can request a waiver of the requirement to go through the child support process to allow you to get Reach Up or Post-Secondary Education (PSE) assistance. Ask your benefits worker about the waiver OR contact your regional Economic Services Division (ESD) office when applying online for benefits.

If you need to talk to someone immediately about safety when getting public assistance or child support, or if your agency worker is unable to help you, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the StrongHearts Native Helpline at 1-844-7NATIVE. Highly trained advocates are available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.