Child Support

Your family is our first priority

You may be concerned about how your divorce will financially impact you children. That is where child support comes in. Child support can help you reach this goal. What is important to remember is that child support is not punitive; it is a commitment to helping create a consistent living experience between two homes and putting the children first.


In Washington, both parents must support their children. If a child’s parents are not married or are in the process of separating, one parent may owe child support to the other parent’s household to meet the children’s basic needs.


If you and your child’s other parent are not residing together and you are concerned about supporting your family, our team of child support lawyers can discuss your case in detail and answer any questions you may have. Let one of our dedicated family law attorneys help you file or respond to a petition for child support.

 

CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS

Calculating Child Support in Washington


Child support obligations are based primarily on the parents’ incomes. Each parent is also obligated to pay their proportionate share of a child’s expenses, including daycare, health insurance, and out-of-pocket medical costs. To determine an appropriate amount for child support, a court will apply the parents’ combined incomes to the Washington Child Support Schedule and determine each parent’s share of the total child support obligation to meet the child’s needs. 


You and the other parent can also agree on how much child support will be paid or how the child’s expenses will be shared. The court will generally honor your agreement if the child’s basic support needs are met, but it is always best to have such agreements reviewed by an experienced attorney, formalized in writing, and filed with the court.


Our lawyers are experienced in child support cases and familiar with the Child Support Schedule. With decades of cumulative experience behind us, our talented legal team can advise you on the amount of support that may be owed in your case.

SOMETIMES CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE

What if a Parent Is Unemployed or Underemployed? 

 
Any orders signed by the court, whether based on agreement or determined by the court, are court orders. Child support is a court-ordered obligation, even in the case of unemployment or underemployment. Our team of experienced family law attorneys can guide and review your child support agreement before you sign and file it with the court.
 
A judge may assess a voluntarily unemployed parent’s capacity to provide for their children and calculate child support accordingly. A court may consider several factors to determine voluntary unemployment, including the parent’s available assets, employment history, health, and overall earnings in the local job market. 

CONTRIBUTING FACTORS

Determining Parents’ Incomes

 

Before calculating child support, the court must first establish each parent’s net income. To do so, the court considers a parent’s gross income and deducts certain expenses, including but not limited to:

 

  • Health insurance
  • Existing spousal maintenance orders
  • Pension payments
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Federal and state income taxes
  • 401(k) contributions up to $5,000 per year

If a parent owns a business, the court may deduct “normal” business expenses to determine a parent’s net income. These expenses could include mortgage payments, utilities, employee salaries, and vehicle costs. Our lawyers can assess your financial circumstances and determine your income for a child support calculation.

CONDITIONS FOR A CHANGE

Deviating From a Child Support Schedule

 

The Washington State Child Support Schedule determines the basic child support obligation or standard calculation. However, a judge may order a higher or lower amount of support in some cases. The court may deviate from the standard child support amount if any of the following conditions exist:

 

  • A non-custodial parent has a substantial amount of time with their child
  • A parent’s income is based on “nonrecurring” sources, such as bonuses, overtime, or a seasonal job
  • Child support from other relationships
  • Special needs of a disabled child

 

To determine if a child support deviation is warranted in your case, it may be in your best interest to consult with our knowledgeable attorneys.

CONDITIONS FOR A CHANGE

Deviating From a Child Support Schedule

 

The Washington State Child Support Schedule determines the basic child support obligation or standard calculation. However, a judge may order a higher or lower amount of support in some cases. The court may deviate from the standard child support amount if any of the following conditions exist:

 

  • A non-custodial parent has a substantial amount of time with their child
  • A parent’s income is based on “nonrecurring” sources, such as bonuses, overtime, or a seasonal job
  • Child support from other relationships
  • Special needs of a disabled child

 

To determine if a child support deviation is warranted in your case, it may be in your best interest to consult with our knowledgeable attorneys.

CONTINUED SUPPORT

Post-Secondary Child Support 

 
Child support obligations generally end when your child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. Under certain circumstances, a court may order post-secondary support extended through a child’s 23rd birthday. 
 
When you file a petition for post-secondary support, a court may consider whether the child relies on you and their other parent for reasonable necessities, among other factors. To qualify for post-secondary support, a child must actively study at an accredited college or vocational school. An experienced child support lawyer can provide greater insight into the criteria for post-secondary support.
 

RESOLVING OUTSIDE OF COURT

Consult a Skilled Child Support Attorney

 


While the Washington State Child Support Schedule determines the basic child support obligation or standard calculation, adjustments can be requested. If you have questions about the process of obtaining child support or responding to a request for child support, do not hesitate to give us a call. Our firm’s child support lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of your case.

 

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