When younger couples get divorced, one or both parties may still be receiving student loan payments or other forms of financial aid. This is especially true when one partner is pursuing a masters, doctorate, or other type of professional degree. When a couple who is receiving financial aid divorces, does this money count as income for the purposes of child support?

Student loan payments are exempt from many types of garnishments. For example, most creditors cannot seize student loan payments in order to pay off a debt. The rules for calculating child support, however, are different.

When determining the proper amount of child support under the Washington State Guidelines, the court will examine the financial affidavits of both parents. These affidavits must list every type of income a person receives, which will be used toward calculating that person’s net income.

There are very few types of income which do not count towards a child support calculation. These exceptions include food stamps, temporary assistance for needy families, child support payments from other children, and some types of income from second jobs. Student loan benefits are not included in the list of statutory exemptions.

As a result, student loans will usually be factored into a person’s income, because technically, it is income. A student who receives financial aid will be expected to use his or her income to support the children, even if he or she were previously attending school full time. At the very least, a court will usually impute at least minimum wage income to a student-parent who is receiving financial aid. In most cases, parents who were previously surviving only on student loan payments will need to get a job to help support their children while they are in school.

If you receive financial aid and are worried about your child support payments, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today. Our experienced Washington family law attorneys will help you structure your child support agreement in a way that protects your financial future. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at 509-572-3700.