How will a judge determine child support payments in Washington State?

The most difficult part of a divorce is making sure your children are exposed to as little of the conflict as possible and that they will be cared for as they always have been. Part of this process is determining residential time (custody) arrangements and the other part is determining child support payments. In Washington, it is a fairly straightforward process, but you want to be sure that any special concerns you have are considered. When you work with de Maar Law, you can be sure we always have your best interests in mind.

How Child Support Is Determined

In situations where children live primarily with one parent (primary residential parent) and visit the other (non-primary residential) parent according to a schedule, the non-primary residential parent will pay child support. When both parents have a shared residential schedule (50-50 time with each parent) there still often is a child support transfer payment if there is a difference in incomes between the parents A shared residential schedule may be a basis for a reduced child support transfer payment, but not always. Factors used to determine a dollar amount for support include the following:

  • Income. The total net income of each spouse—including wages, interest, income property, etc.—will be the most important factor considered. The higher the income, the higher the payments will be. Some of your expenses will also be considered, such as retirement contributions, as well as any costs you solely pay for the children, such as health insurance.
  • Cost of raising a child. The number of children involved and their ages will also play a key role in determining child support. Childrearing costs include daycare, private school, athletic or other activities, travel between parents, and more. As the children get older, support will be increased.
  • Past standard of care. As much as possible, your children should have access to the same things they had before the divorce, including the neighborhood they live in, the childcare they had, the schools they attend, and their out-of-school activities.

Once a judge takes a look at all of these factors, he or she will consult Washington’s Child Support Economic Table to determine the monthly payment that should be made to the custodial parent. 

Why You Need a Lawyer

Even though this process seems pretty standardized, it’s important that you have an advocate in your corner arguing for your best interests. An ex-spouse may argue to exclude income from their support or ask for invalid credits. On the other hand, you may be declaring too much income or not taking advantage of credits you are entitled to take to offset your support obligation. Our experienced divorce attorneys will fight for you and your children. Call us today to learn more about our services.