Child support is a monthly sum of money that one parent is ordered to pay the other parent for the care and support of a child. All parents have a legal duty to support their children. Child support is intended to help meet a child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, child care, and medical care. The amount of child support that a parent is ordered to pay depends primarily on that parent’s income.
Washington state courts use the Washington State Support Schedule to calculate the amount of support that a parent must pay. Using the Schedule, a court will take each parent’s monthly net income and add it together. A parent’s net income is the amount of income that he or she has after federal and state taxes and other mandatory deductions are taken. The court then will find the number on the schedule that corresponds with the parents’ income, the number of children, and the ages of the children. The number taken from the Schedule is both parents’ basic child support obligation. This amount is divided by the proportional share of the combined net income of each parent. Usually, the parent who does not have the children living with themthe majority of the time will pay the parent who does the calculated amount of child support.
The calculation and work at getting child support right depend on correctly calculating the net income right. This requires getting documentation from the other parent that verifies income, making sure any claimed deductions are allowed, and that the numbers add up. Other things that can affect child support calculations are credits for child care or health insurance payments for the children.
If one of the parents has child support obligations for other children, has the children living with them a substantial amount of time, or has a financial hardship there may also be a reduction from the standard number. Then again, the reduction may be denied if it could cause one parent to suffer a reduction in income that lowered their household below poverty limits.
The impact of a child support order, in particular, on your financial situation is likely to be quite significant and can affect your life for years to come. It is in these kinds of cases that a Washington child support lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case. Visit our website and click on the “Contact Us” button and fill out the online form today.