Child support provides a way for the child of a marriage to maintain his or her standard of living after a divorce. It ensures a child’s needs are met by requiring both parents to continue to support the child financially when the marriage ends. In Washington, the courts calculate child support payments based on both parents’ incomes. However, many paying parents argue that their child support orders are unfair. To find out if your child support is fair, consult with an attorney about your specific case.
Every state has its own method for determining a child support order in a divorce or legal separation case. In Washington, the state uses a child support schedule to calculate how much each parent must pay. First, both parents must disclose all income that they receive from all sources. This includes job wages, bonuses, commissions, pension and military pay. With this information, the courts will apply Washington’s child support guidelines to determine how much the noncustodial parent will need to pay to cover childcare costs after the divorce.
Before you get divorced, you can get an idea of how much you may have to pay in child support using the Washington State Child Support Worksheet Calculator. Although this calculator is not guaranteed to give you the amount that a judge will assign, it can give you an idea of what might be fair for you as the noncustodial parent according to your earnings. Keep in mind, however, that the courts will also look at other factors to determine child support, including the number of children, their health care and education needs, whether you have a disability, and any applicable deductions.
All parents who wish to end their marriages in Washington have the opportunity to create their own child support orders through divorce settlements before the courts intervene to create a child support order for them. If you can communicate and compromise with your ex-spouse during your divorce, you may be able to create a child support plan that works for both of you. This can help you avoid a child support order that you believe is unfair. Make sure that you agree to an amount that is adequate to cover all of your childcare expenses, however, if you are the custodial spouse.
If you believe the amount awarded to your ex-spouse in child support during a divorce case in Washington is unfair or unreasonable based on your income or other factors, you may be able to dispute the child support decision. You can return to the judge and ask for a reconsideration. Note, however, that a judge will generally only agree to modify a child support order if there has been a substantial change in the paying parent’s financial circumstances since the date the order was given.
To receive a child support order modification, you must prove that you have had a major change in income since the date that the court examined your financial paperwork. For example, if you lost your job or suffered a major demotion, you may qualify for a reduced child support obligation. In some states, there is also a waiting period of at least six months to request a modification after a child support order is given. If there has not been a change in your circumstances, you generally cannot receive a modification of your order, even if you believe it is unfair.
After a divorce, it is critical to keep up with your child support payments. Failing to pay on time can result in significant consequences, including fines, interest owed to your spouse, wage garnishment, liens on your personal property and even being held in contempt of court. This can end in jail time. Contact an attorney if you have questions about your child support order or wish to request a modification. A lawyer can help you understand your rights as a parent after a divorce.