Code of the District of Columbia

§ 16–916. Maintenance of spouse [or domestic partner] and minor children; maintenance of former spouse [or domestic partner]; maintenance of minor children; enforcement.

(a) Whenever a spouse or domestic partner shall fail or refuse to maintain his or her needy spouse, domestic partner, minor children, or both, although able to do so, or whenever any parent shall fail or refuse to maintain his or her children by a marriage since dissolved, although able to do so, the court, upon proper application and upon a showing of genuine need of a spouse or domestic partner, may decree, pendente lite and permanently, that such spouse or domestic partner shall pay reasonable sums periodically for the support of such needy spouse or domestic partner and of the children, or such children, as the case may be, and the court may decree that he or she pay suit money, including counsel fees, pendente lite and permanently, to enable plaintiff to conduct the case.

(b) Whenever a former spouse or domestic partner has obtained a foreign ex parte divorce or termination of the domestic partnership, in accordance with § 32-702(d) or § 16-904(e), the court thereafter, on application of the other former spouse or domestic partner and with personal service of process upon such former spouse or domestic partner in the District of Columbia, may decree that he or she shall pay him or her reasonable sums periodically for his or her maintenance and for suit money, including counsel fees, pendente lite and permanently, to enable plaintiff to conduct the case.

(c) When a father or mother fails to maintain his or her minor child, the Court may decree that the father or mother pay reasonable sums periodically for the support and maintenance of the child, including health insurance coverage and cash medical support, and may decree that the father or mother pay Court costs, including counsel fees, to enable plaintiff to conduct the cases.

(c-1) A support order entered under this section shall contain terms providing for the payment of medical expenses for each child included in the support order, whether or not health insurance coverage is available to pay for those expenses. The court may order either or both parents to provide health insurance coverage, cash medical support, or both, consistent with § 16-916.01.

(c-2) In all cases where accessible health insurance coverage is available to either or both parents at reasonable cost, the court shall order either or both parents to provide the health insurance coverage, consistent with § 16-916.01.

(c-3) In selecting among health insurance coverage options, the court shall consider, at a minimum, the cost, comprehensiveness, and accessibility of all health insurance coverage options available to either parent.

(c-3A) In cases where accessible health insurance coverage is not available to either parent at reasonable cost, or where the medical expenses of a child are not fully covered by health insurance, the court shall order either or both parents to pay cash medical support consistent with § 16-916.01.

(c-3B) For the purposes of this section, health insurance coverage shall be considered reasonable in cost if the cost to the obligated parent of providing coverage for the children subject to the support order pursuant to § 16-916.01(i)(3) does not exceed 5% of the parent’s gross income.

(c-3C) For the purposes of this section, health insurance coverage shall be considered accessible if, based on the work history of the parent providing the coverage, it will be available for at least one year, and if the child lives within the geographic area covered by the plan or within 30 minutes or 30 miles of primary care services.

(c-4) All support orders subject to enforcement by the IV-D agency pursuant to title IV, part D of the Social Security Act, approved January 4, 1975 (88 Stat. 2351; 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), shall require the payment of support in equal monthly amounts on the first day of each month. If a support order does not require the payment of support in this manner and the support order is or becomes subject to enforcement by the IV-D agency, the IV-D agency may direct the payor, upon notice to both parents, to pay the support in equal monthly amounts on the first day of each month; provided, that the total of the monthly amounts required to be paid in one year cumulatively equals the total support required to be paid annually under the support order.

(d) The court may enforce any decree entered under this section in the same manner as is provided in section 16-911.

(e)(1) In order to secure payment of overdue support as defined in section 466(e) of the Social Security Act approved August 16, 1984 (98 Stat. 1306; 42 U.S.C. 666(e)), after providing notice under subsection (b) of this section, the Court shall, where appropriate, require the parent to post security, bond, or give some other guarantee.

(2) The Court shall provide advance notice to the parent regarding the delinquency of the support payment and the requirement of posting security, bond, or guarantee. The notice shall inform the parent of the parent’s rights and the methods available for contesting the impending action.

(3) Where the Clerk of the Court determines that a parent is delinquent in child support payments in an amount equal to at least 60 days of child support payments, the Clerk of the Court shall notify the Mayor of the parent’s name, social security number, court docket number, and the amount of the support payment delinquency.

(f) Repealed.


(Dec. 23, 1963, Pub. L. 88-241, § 1, 77 Stat. 562; Sept. 29, 1965, 79 Stat. 889, Pub. L. 89-217, § 3; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 557, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 145(e)(2)(A); Oct. 1, 1976, D.C. Law 1-87, § 19(a)-(c), 23 DCR 2544; Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-166, § 33(a)(4), 33 DCR 6710; May 10, 1989, D.C. Law 7-231, § 24, 36 DCR 492; Mar. 16, 1995, D.C. Law 10-223, § 2(e), 41 DCR 8051; Feb. 13, 1996, D.C. Law 11-87, § 2, 42 DCR 6767; Apr. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-269, § 106(g), 48 DCR 1270; Mar. 30, 2004, D.C. Law 15-130, § 202(b), 51 DCR 1615; Apr. 4, 2006, D.C. Law 16-79, § 4(g), 53 DCR 1035; May 12, 2006, D.C. Law 16-100, § 2(g), 53 DCR 1886; June 22, 2006, D.C. Law 16-138, § 2(b), 53 DCR 3650; Mar. 20, 2008, D.C. Law 17-128, § 2(c), 55 DCR 1525; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 20(e), 55 DCR 6758; Apr. 9, 2016, D.C. Law 21-105, § 2(f), 63 DCR 217.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 16-916.

1973 Ed., § 16-916.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-583, § 16-831.03, § 16-901, § 16-916.01, and § 46-201.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-269, in subsec. (a), inserted “that either or both parents shall pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses of the child, and that a parent shall obtain medical insurance for the child whenever that insurance is available at a reasonable cost,” preceding “’and the court may decree”; and, in subsec. (c), inserted “that either or both parents shall pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses of the child,” preceding “that the parent obtain medical insurance”.

D.C. Law 15-130, in subsec. (a), deleted “that either or both parents shall pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses of the child, and that a parent shall obtain medical insurance for the child whenever that insurance is available at a reasonable cost,” following “as the case may be,”; in subsec. (c), deleted “that either or both parents shall pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses of the child, and that a parent shall obtain medical insurance for the child whenever that insurance is available at a reasonable cost,” following “maintenance of the child,”; and added subsecs. (c-1), (c-2), and (c-3).

D.C. Law 16-79 rewrote subsecs. (a) and (b).

D.C. Law 16-100 added subsec. (c-4).

D.C. Law 16-138 repealed subsec. (f), which had read as follows: “(f) Any court order that establishes a retroactive amount of child support or a judgment for unreimbursed public assistance shall be established in accordance with section 16-916.01 and shall take into consideration either the current earnings and income of the noncustodial parent at the time the order is set or the earnings and income of the noncustodial parent during the period for which retroactive child support or unreimbursed public assistance is sought. To overcome the presumptive support amount, the court may consider the obligor’s ability to pay back support and concurrently maintain current payments.”

D.C. Law 17-128 rewrote subsecs. (c), (c-1), (c-2), and (c-3) and added subsecs. (c-3A), (c-3B), and (c-3C).

D.C. Law 17-231, in subsec. (b), substituted “termination of the domestic partnership, in accordance with § 32-702(d),” for “termination of the domestic partnership,”.

Cross References

Child support enforcement, withholding of income, see § 46-207.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 5(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-222, December 23, 1997, 44 DCR 114), § 5(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-309, March 20, 1998, 45 DCR 1923), § 5(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110), § 5(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-503, October 27, 1998, 45 DCR 8495), and § 5(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-600, January 20, 1999, 46 DCR 1239).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 12-103, see § 13 of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 105(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 12-210, see § 113 of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-177, November 2, 1999, 46 DCR 9678).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-241, January 11, 2000, 47 DCR 581).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-446, November 7, 2000, 47 DCR 9213).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 106(g) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-5, February 13, 2001, 48 DCR 2440).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-485, October 3, 2002, 49 DCR 9631).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-600, January 7, 2003, 50 DCR 664).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Emergency Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-208, October 24, 2003, 50 DCR 9856).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-330, January 28, 2004, 51 DCR 1603).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(g) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-167, July 26, 2005, 52 DCR 7648).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 2(g) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-200, November 17, 2005, 52 DCR 10490).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 5(i) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-103, May 8, 1998, law notification 45 DCR 3254).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 5(i) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-210, April 13, 1999, law notification 46 DCR 3832).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Law 13-57, March 7, 2000, law notification 47 DCR 1979).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 105(i) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Law 13-207, March 31, 2001, law notification 48 DCR 3238).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Temporary Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Law 14-238, March 25, 2003, law notification 50 DCR 2751).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 202(b) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Temporary Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Law 15-84, March 10, 2004, law notification 51 DCR 3376).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(g) of the Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Temporary Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Law 16-42, December 10, 2005, law notification 52 DCR 11038).

Editor's Notes

Applicability: Section 4 of D.C. Law 16-138 provided: “This act shall apply as of April 1, 2007.”