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Child Support in Washington

When a child’s parents don’t live together or cannot agree on issues related to the financial support of their child, the state of Washington often requires one parent to pay child support to the other. Below is some basic information about child support in Washington to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.

Defining Child Support

Child support payments are paid by one of a child’s parents to the child’s other parent. This money is intended to provide extra funds that the recipient can use to provide for the child in question. This money may be used to provide medical care, pay daycare expenses, buy food or clothes, cover utility bills and/or contribute to the recipient’s rent or mortgage.

Calculating Child Support in Washington

In most cases, child support in Washington will be paid on a monthly basis. The court determines the amount of support a parent must pay based on the Washington State Support Schedule. The schedule is similar to an income tax return, in that it calculates child support liability based on the income of both parents, as well as the number of children and their ages. Information you will need to complete this schedule includes:

      • Your gross income– This includes all of the income you receive from all sources. You must report the amount of income you receive before any taxes or other pre-tax expenses have been deducted.
      • Applicable deductions– Before child support will be calculated, you will be allowed to claim certain deductions against your gross income. Allowable deductions include mandatory union dues, Social Security, Medicare tax and federal income tax. If you are self-employed, you will also be able to deduct business expenses.
      • Income earned by your spouse or live-in partner, if applicable– You will also need to include any income your spouse or live-in partner earns on your child support schedule.
      • Information about your children– The number of children you are currently supporting, as well as their ages, will be included on the schedule as well. In addition, if your live-in partner or spouse is supporting children, expenses related to their support will also be considered.

Based on all of this information, the court will calculate an appropriate amount of child support.

About Imputed Income

When calculating child support, the court must consider the income of both of the parties. If the court determines that one parent is not working enough or that he or she is voluntarily unemployed, it may impute income on that parent. This means that the court will decide on a fair income amount for that parent and use it to calculate child support. Depending on the situation, the court may estimate imputed income based on the parent’s full-time earnings at his or her current pay rate or full-time earnings at a previous job.

Keep in mind that the court will not typically impute income on a parent who cannot be employed because of a disability.

Deviations from the Schedule

In some cases, the court may deviate from the amount of support required by the schedule. It is a good idea to have a child support lawyer on your side. The court may lower the amount of support a parent must pay if:

      • Paying the required support would put that parent’s income below federal poverty guidelines.
      • The required support amount is greater than 45 percent of the parent’s after-tax income.
      • The parent has other children to support.
      • The parent received a non-recurring windfall or bonus before support was calculated.

The court may raise the amount of support a parent must pay if:

      • A child has special needs.
      • A child has significant expenses not covered by basic support.

Contact Twyford Law Office

If you are involved in a child support case in Washington and are in need of assistance, please contact Twyford Law Office to schedule an appointment.