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How Child Support is Calculated in Washington State

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Posted By Cohen Family Law | January 15 2023 | Uncategorized

Parents have a moral obligation and a legal duty to support their children. Washington state courts set child support so that the needs of the children are met. If you are required to pay child support, or if you are a custodial parent wondering how the process works and how the amount of child support is set, continue reading.

Needs Met By Child Support

The court is concerned for the child’s welfare, including providing for their basic needs. Listed below are the needs that child support is meant to meet:

  • Food
  • Shelter, including utilities
  • Clothes
  • Medical care
  • Proper daycare

Of course, it takes much more than this to raise a child successfully. But, this is what the court outlines as needs crucial for every child.

How the Amount Paid is Determined

Washington state has a worksheet that the noncustodial parent must fill out. The information on that sheet will be used to determine what they can pay in child support. The court takes several factors into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid.

The state legislature established guidelines for determining child support amounts. The income of the parents, how many children require child support, the amount of time both parents spend with their children the cost of healthcare, daycare, and transportation for visitation are all considered when deciding how much the nonprimary parent will pay for child support.

Can the Parents Decide on the Amount?

Parents can absolutely negotiate the child support amount to be paid on their own. In amicable divorces, parents will often put the needs of their children above any pettiness or hostility that they may be feeling. In these cases, they will decide on a fair amount that they can be trusted to pay.

Often, parents simply cannot agree on a child support amount. In these cases, the court will step in and use the state-legislated guidelines to determine the monthly amount that the noncustodial parent is required to pay.

The court is allowed to choose an amount that varies from what the typical calculations suggest. This is permitted when it is in the child’s best interest. In these cases, the judge must provide a written explanation for deviating from the usual protocol.

Here are some reasons that the court may see fit to raise the amount of child support paid:

  • Out-of-the-ordinary medical expenses
  • Special needs
  • Shared custody
  • When the child is being supported by a third party such as a grandparent or step-parent
  • Expenses incurred for extracurricular activities, transportation, or educational opportunities

There is a helpful online calculator that may help you estimate how much child support should be paid.

Contact Us For Answers to Your Child Support Questions

Contact Cohen Family Law, LLC if you have questions about child support. With over 25 years of combined experience, we have the skills to provide you with the representation you need in these matters. Our firm has a reputation for sensible but aggressive litigation. Communicate your goals to us, and we will do everything we can to help you achieve them. We understand the stress that finances surrounding child support can cause, and we are here to help alleviate that stress.

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