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Child Support

Parents must financially support their children. Below are the most common questions related to child support cases:

QUESTION: What is child support? 

ANSWER: Child support is the amount of money that each parent is legally required to pay for his/her children. Typically one parent must pay the other parent a monthly payment. The person who is required to make the monthly transfer payment is called an "obligor." The person who receives this transfer payment is called an "obligee." 

QUESTION: What is a Child Support Order?

ANSWER: A Child Support Order is an enforceable order either issued by the Court or by DSHS Division of Child Support (DCS). The first thing that a Child Support Order determines is the net monthly income of each parent. Based off the parent's net monthly income and the number of children, the Court will set a standard monthly transfer payment (this is typically found in line 17 of the child support worksheet). The parent who has less residential time will have to transfer that monthly payment to the other parent each month. A Child Support Order can also require parties to pay his/her proportional share of non-insured medical expenses, monthly medical insurance premium, long distance travel expenses, extracurricular activities, summer camps, education, and work-related child care. Furthermore, a Child Support Order sets forth how the parents will claim the child on federal tax returns moving forward. 

QUESTION: How much do I have to pay for child support?

ANSWER: Washington courts utilize the Washington State Child Support Schedule. This schedule performs a calculation where it considers both parties income, applicable deductions, the number of children, and whether or not to apply any credits or deviations. 

QUESTION: What is considered income when calculating child support?

ANSWER: RCW 26.19.071 lists all of the sources that are included in income. This incudes: (1) salaries; (2) wages; (3) commissions; (4) deferred compensation; (5) overtime (some exceptions apply); (6) contract-related benefits; (7) income from second jobs (some exceptions apply); (8) dividends; (9) interest; (10) trust income; (11) severance pay; (12) annuities; (13) capital gains; (14) pension retirement benefits; (15) workers' compensation; (16) unemployment benefits; (17) maintenance actually received; (18) bonuses; (19) social security benefits; (20) disability insurance benefits; and (21) income from self employment/business; (22) rent; and (23) royalties. 

QUESTION: Can the parents agree to deviate from the standard calculation of child support?

ANSWER: Yes, the parents can agree to deviate from the standard calculation of child support; however, the Court is required to ensure that the child's financial needs are adequately addressed in the child support order. Sometimes in public assistance cases, the Attorney General's Office appears as a party to ensure that the parents are financially supporting the child in order to minimize the government use of public benefits. 

QUESTION: who enforces a Child Support Order? 

ANSWER: a Child Support Order is enforceable by both the Courts and DSHS Division of Child Support (DCS). If one party is not receiving the child support, he/she can file a Motion for Contempt and ask for remedies including: (1) back owed child support, (2) attorney fees; (3) civil penalties; and (4) jail. DCS is typically responsible for enforcing the Child Support Orders and they have the power to garnish wages, garnish federal tax refunds, place liens, and pursue other available remedies depending on where the owing parent resides. 

QUESTION: How do I find out the other party's income?

ANSWER: Most courts require each side to file financial documents before the case goes to trial. This typically includes a signed financial declaration, six months of paystubs; two years of tax returns and W2s; and six months of all financial bank accounts. 

QUESTION: What can I do if the other side is hiding money?

ANSWER: A skilled attorney can assist you when this becomes an issue. Typically, discovery methods will need to be utilized. Examples of discovery are: interrogatories, requests for production, depositions, subpoenas, and/or retention of experts. 

QUESTION: Can I modify a child support order?

ANSWER: Yes, there are standards under which the Court can modify a current child support order. In order to proceed, a hearing must be held and the requesting party must convince the Court to reopen the case. 

If you need assistance with a child support case, please contact our office or call us today at 425-361-0687!

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