You have been served with divorce paperwork or a child support modification from Washington State – What do you do now? These six keys will start you on the path to solutions. There is no magic pill for surviving a child support action. No one who has been served with divorce paperwork or a child support modification from Washington State should have to deal with it alone. This article gives actions to take and what information to gather so you can be prepared.
Key 1: What is child support?
Child Support is the money paid by one parent to another, usually the non-custodial parent, for the care and financial support of their child after a separation. Both parents are obligated to provide for the support of the children. The custodial parent needs to provide care and resources for their child while still meeting their own needs. It includes paying for food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education, recreation and any other needs that arise as the needs of the child. Child support payments can be established by court order or administratively. A legal professional like Empower Family Law LLLT, will calculate the child support when completing your divorce paperwork or legal separation paperwork. Parties can also start an action for child support.
Key 2: How is Child Support Calculated?
In Washington, child support is calculated by adding the income of both parents together and locating the combined income amount on the Washington State Child Support Schedule. Each parent is obligated to pay their portion of the child support amount as determined by their portion of the combined total income. The law does allow for deviations based on several factors including other children or extraordinary income. These exemptions must be requested and ordered by the court. Washington State DCS has resources available to help you calculate your child support at https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/division-child-support/child-support-modification.
Key 3: Can a Child Support Order Be Modified?
Child support orders can increase or decreased depending on a the timing of entry of the original order and then circumstances now in effect. Most of the time child support is lowered is because the parent that has to pay support shows the court that a “substantial change in circumstances” has arisen since the last time a child support court order was entered. This could be because of the loss of a job, having overtime eliminated from their position, the parents changing the parenting schedule to allow for more overnights to the parent paying support, or having another child with a different person. Non-custodial parents attempting to lower child support payments must prove these “changed circumstances” to justify a reduction in child support, whether the guidelines be a specific percentage of a non-custodial parents net income, or are based on the needs of the child.
Yes, child support can also be increased. Whenever a substantial change in circumstances arises, child support can be modified. One change could be the non-custodial parent begins earning substantially more money than when the last child support order was entered. The non-custodial parent may have also lied about their income or withheld important and relevant financial information that has now come to light. Child support might also be increased when the needs of a child have increased or other expenses begin to pop up, as often happens as children get older. This may include insurance, medical bills, childcare, extracurricular activity expenses, or a health issue that requires more money to care for a child.
Key 4: How Can I Monitor Another Parent’s Income to Know if Income Changes Occur?
One way that makes it easier to monitor the other parents income to see if child support should be increased is to have the initial parenting plan and child support order require the non-custodial parent to turn over their tax documents each year. With the non-custodial parents tax documents (W-2’s, K-1’s, 1099’s, and filed tax returns) turned over every year, the parent that is owed support can run a preliminary calculation to see if the amount should increase based on the non-custodial parents income. This requirement can be written into your original child support order or any subsequent order.
Key 5: Can I Withhold Child Support?
Many non-custodial parents pay child support and their residential time is not allowed or is restricted. It is important to remember that child support and residential time are separate matters – they are argued in the same family law action but the standards are drastically different. You cannot withhold your child support because of unfair restriction of your residential time. If there is a residential schedule and the other parent is not following it, you should contact a legal professional to pursue an action to enforce your residential time. Do not stop paying your child support pending any additional legal action until a new order is issued.
Key 6: Who Can Help Me?
If you have a child support order or you need one or if you feel you have a substantial change of circumstances, it is advised that you seek legal help from a professional. Empower Family Law LLLT can assist with all your child support needs. We can provide solutions and answer questions. Do not stress about child support in Washington State. Book a consultation now!
Lesli Ashley is a licensed LLLT with Empower Family Law LLLT. She worked in civil litigation for over 25 years. Lesli offers a wide variety of family law services.