Child Support

How is child support determined in Washington State?

Child support is determined by using a schedule adopted by the Washington State Legislature and multiplying the resulting “basic support obligation” amount by the proportional share of the paying parent’s income. The number of children and their ages will impact the amount as well. An upward or downward deviation may be applied under certain circumstances. In addition, the paying parent may be required to pay his/her proportional share of extraordinary expenses such as daycare and long distance transportation costs.

What other factors are considered when child support is calculated?

Allowable day care expenses, health care expenses and long distance transportation expenses are some of the larger factors that can greatly change the amount of child support owed. Also, the court could determine that one or more of the parents are “underemployed” and impute to them a higher income than they are actually making, thereby increasing the amount of support owed.

My former spouse has threatened me with “contempt” concerning child support and believes I owe money for back support. What could happen if I am held in contempt?

A “contempt action” in a current or post-dissolution case is very serious because it can result in sanctions, including the imposition of jail time. Other remedies for a contempt action include sanctions and having to pay the costs and attorney fees of the other party. A motion for contempt is often combined with a motion to obtain a back judgment for all of the child support claimed owed.

I had a child without being married to the mother. Could I owe back child support?

Yes, you may owe a significant back support depending on your income, the age of the child and how much support you gave for the child in the past.

There is an order of child support that states that I should make the child support payments to the State of Washington. My ex-wife and I have agreed that I will send her the payments directly. Is there any problem in doing this?

Yes. You should follow the specific payment instructions written within the Order of Child Support. Otherwise you may not receive credit for the payments you made. Also, your ex-spouse may have assigned her rights to collect the child support to the State of Washington.