Child support is an issue that arises in nearly every divorce case involving children. Washington law ensures that every child is provided adequate care through child support payments, with the intent being that children have the same financial support as they would if their parents remained together. With the help of our Washington child support attorney at Cohen Family Law, LLC, we can help guide you toward the best and fairest result possible. Call (360) 953-5000 today for a free consultation.
There is no room for error when it comes to the well-being of your children. An experienced Washington child support lawyer can be a vital asset and significantly increases your chances of a fair outcome. Child support cases come with many uncertainties, and a child support attorney can give you a realistic assessment of how a court may potentially rule on this relevant issue. From there, they will help you develop an effective strategy that protects your children’s financial future.
Ordering a Washington parent to pay child support begins with the application of the Washington State Support Schedule. Before support payment calculations can be made, parents must complete Washington State Child Support Schedule Worksheets disclosing their income from all sources. With that information, attorneys and judges interpret both child support law and guidelines to establish how much a non-custodial parent should pay to support and maintain each child on a monthly basis.
However, the court may also factor in several other considerations in their calculation, including:
Depending on these factors, the court may deviate from the standard amount that would be awarded. For instance, child support payments may be reduced if the child spends a substantial amount of residential time with the non-custodial parent. In contrast, child support payments can be increased if the child spends little to no residential time with the non-custodial parent.
Recent modifications to child support laws in Washington State, effective January 2019, have changed how child support payments are calculated. The age of a child will no longer be factored into child support calculations. Previously, the courts calculated payments based on the state’s child support economic table and the child’s age bracket. Essentially, parents of children 12 and older received higher monthly child support payments than those of children under 12.
The state found that this method caused insufficient funds for many parents to cover basic necessities such as food, rent, doctor’s appointments, and transportation. The age brackets have been removed, and child support is now the same amount regardless of the child’s age. Parents with children under 12 who finalized their divorce before January 2019 can request a child support modification.
There are two ways that a child support order in Washington can be modified:
After a year has passed from the initial child support, a Petition to Modify Child Support Order can be filed if:
A petition to modify child support can also be filed if the parent paying support will spend at least six months in jail or prison. In this case, it does not matter how long it has been from when the initial order was entered.
If two years have passed since the initial order and a parent’s income or the standards for calculating support have changed, a Motion to Adjust Child Support Order can be filed. It is typically a quicker and easier way to modify child support payments. Less paperwork is involved, and frequently only a single hearing is required to settle the matter.
Some parents do not take their financial responsibilities to their children seriously and get behind in their court-ordered child support payments. If you are in this situation, you have options to enforce and collect the child support you are owed. Read more on what happens child support is not paid here.
DCS is an entity commonly involved in child support orders by acting as a payment intermediary. The non-custodial parent makes payments to DCS, the payments are recorded, and then DCS forwards them to the party who’s supposed to receive them. The other role DCS can play is as a collection and enforcement agent. If payments aren’t made on time, DCS has the right to garnish wages, suspend a person’s driver’s license, or take court action against the party who is behind on child support payments. You have the option to request DCS collection or enforcement services at any time, even if they have not been involved in your child support previously.
Another option to enforce a child support order as a custodial parent is to have a child support attorney help you file a Motion for Contempt. Once the court is informed about a parent’s failure to meet their child support obligation, the non-custodial parent may have to serve jail time until they pay all or part of the payments they owe.
If you are looking for a dependable child support lawyer to lead you through a difficult divorce and family law issues related to child support, contact Cohen Family Law, LLC. We offer free consultations; reach us online through our contact form or call (360) 953-5000