Child support helps ensure the well-being of children after a divorce or separation. In Washington State, specific considerations guide the calculation of child support.
Understanding how the state determines the amount of child support you may pay or receive allows you to plan for your post-divorce future.
First, the court considers the income of both parents to establish a baseline for financial support. Income may come from wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions and various other sources. On average, Washington state residents have a per capita annual income of $73,775.
Consideration of financial responsibilities
The calculation process also considers other financial responsibilities of each parent. The court makes deductions for legally obligated payments. Examples include taxes, mandatory union dues and support for other children. The court can also adjust the support amount for expenses related to the child’s well-being, such as healthcare and education costs.
Washington State uses a standardized calculation model to account for parenting time. Increasing the amount of time the child spends with the noncustodial parent decreases the amount of child support they will pay. The court expects both parents to contribute financially to the child’s care during their parenting time.
When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will impute income based on the parent’s earning capacity. This ensures that child support calculations fairly reflect the parent’s potential income.
Child support calculations are not static. Either parent can request a modification if they have significant changes in income, custody arrangements or other relevant factors. This flexibility allows child support orders to adapt to the evolving needs and dynamics of the family.