What is the Bureau for Child Support Enforcement?
The West Virginia Bureau for Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) can help collect child support or establish paternity at the request of West Virginia residents.
Do I need to work with the BCSE?
The BCSE can help all residents collect child support or establish paternity at the resident’s request, but all recipients of WV WORKS or Medicaid, with a minor child, are required to cooperate with BCSE in order to continue to receive benefits.
What if I am a victim of domestic violence and do not want to cooperate with BCSE?
Federal Law establishes an exception which excludes cooperation by a recipient if there is “good cause.” Each state gets to decide what “good cause” is as long as it is decided in favor of the best interests of the child
What IS “good cause” in West Virginia?
Good cause may be found in domestic violence cases if one of the following conditions exists:
- Cooperation could result in physical or emotional harm to the child.
- Cooperation could result in physical or emotional harm to the parent or guardian which would result in being unable to fully care for the child.
What if I think I have good cause?
If you meet one of the above conditions, you should tell your Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) Worker as soon as possible. It is best to file good cause before your case is referred to BCSE. You may still file for good cause after the referral, but it is possible that an automated letter will have already gone out to the absent parent. If you file after the referral, you may tell the legal assistant assigned to your case. He or she will refer the case back to the DHHR worker to decide if good cause exists. The legal assistant will make a recommendation that must be considered in that decision.
What happens next?
Your Worker will need to see you in person to complete Form DFA-AP-1a, Notice to Individual Who Has Claimed Good Cause for Refusal to Cooperate in Child Support Activities. The Worker will complete two of these forms which you will sign. You will keep one copy and the other will go into your case record. You may need to provide verification of your claims within 20 days.
What type of verification will I need?
In issues of domestic violence, the Worker may ask you to provide any of the following:
- a Domestic Violence Protective Order
- statements from legal services, witnesses, domestic violence counseling services or domestic violence shelter staff
- hospital records
- paperwork from law enforcement
What if I do not have or cannot get any of these?
The Worker can decide without verification in some domestic violence cases. This is done if the Worker believes that your claim is credible without proof or evidence is not available and the Worker and Supervisor agree that good cause exists.
Will my Worker contact my abuser?
No. The Worker will never contact your abuser or his friends and family in order to verify abuse.
When will I know if I qualified for Good Cause?
The Worker has 45 days to decide if good cause exists.
What if my Worker determines that good cause does exist?
BCSE will not take any action to establish paternity or collect child support, but this will be reviewed at each redetermination to see if good cause still exists.
What if my Worker determines that good cause does not exist?
The Worker will initiate a penalty until you cooperate with BCSE. You have the right to request a Fair Hearing if you disagree with the decision. If you are denied and need help, you can contact Legal Aid to apply for help.
What if I’ve been to family court and the judge finds good cause or orders no child support?
You may use the court order as verification for your claim, but you must still go through the proper steps to file with and notify DHHR.