Overview of Child Support in WA State Divorce

What is child support?

Child support is financial support paid by a parent for raising children who live with the other parent (or grandma or someone else) usually due to separation or divorce. Child support is started by court order, voluntarily, or by an administrative agency. The noncustodial parent—the parent who does not possess custody, control, or primary care of the child —often has an obligation to the custodial parent—the person who primarily resides with the child.

This article provides an overview of child support for a divorce in Washington state 

When do family courts get involved?

In a divorce, courts get involved when one or more parent files for a Child Support Order. This can be done in the following ways:

  • When the divorce initial filing documents are submitted to the court. The request can be formally made using a mechanism called “Temporary Order for Child Support”
  • In case the parents are separated but no divorce is initiated yet, then a temporary order for child support can be made independently 
  • When the divorce finalization documents are filed  

In order to do this, both parents need to agree to the suitable amount of child support and make this part of a marital separation agreement.

Elements of the Child Support Order.

There are various parts to most child support judgments. 

  1. Payment made by the non custodial parent to the custodial parent. However, direct payments are to be used to pay for the essential needs of the children, such as food, rent, and clothes.
  2. The court possesses the authority to alter the order.  It can be modified if circumstances change substantially in the future. Either parent may request the court to increase or reduce support.
  3. The payments orders automatically terminate when the child dies, reaches majority, or becomes an adult legally.  The issue of becoming an adult legally is often in discussion and may require the court to determine. However, child support will continue to be paid until you file in court to stop it, following in the accrual of arrears. 

Child support can be more than just a check.

The decree of child support is not bounded to an order of direct money pays to the custodial parent. The order often discusses other obligations. 

The court hold choices in creating a support arrangement it deems are best for the children. The court tries to maintain the lifestyle the children had before the divorce if the parents’ finances allow.  A parent can be assigned to maintain insurance for the advantage of children, private school expenses, pay medical bills, daycare costs, music lessons, transportation bills, and pay for other aspects of a child’s day-to-day life. The amount can also be decreased if the non-custodial parent holds physical custody of the child for at least 35% of the time.

Necessities of life, such as food and rent will also be considered by the court. However, the court will not diminish child support payments to make it more relaxed for the parent to meet discretionary obligations. For instance, a parent cannot buy an expensive car or provide a charity at the expense of implementing for his or her own children.

Court Jurisdiction.

Only the Washington state courts possess the authority to order child support. In order for a court to have legal authority or jurisdiction to make sure a parent pays child support, it must hold personal jurisdiction over the parent. Personal jurisdiction indicates that the parent paying the support must have a connection with the state. A court that does not own proper jurisdiction does not possess the legal authority to decree child support. A state that determined a support order holds the power to alter it.  

Child Support Hearings.

Parties are required to attend the scheduled hearings on child support. The court may declare an order that assigns payment that is not appropriate, otherwise. A party can also be held in contempt of court if they avoid a hearing. Also, the parent does not have to consent upon the amount of child support at the office of child support. If wither one does not agree with how much is being recommended at the child support office, a court can determine the right amount.

Child Support is an Enforceable Order of the Court.

If either party ignores the child support enforceable decree, a court can use each and every legal means available to enforce the order, including wage assignments, wage garnishments, contempt of court decrees, and the seizure of the non-paying parent’s property by writ of execution.

Child support is not tax-deductible.

If you pay child support amounts, you cannot subtract those amounts from your income when you file your taxes. In other words, child support payments are not deductible.

As well as if you receive child support amounts, you do not enter those payments as income when you file your taxes.

Select the Right Child Support Option!

Washington state law allows parents to make their own private agreement on how to jointly support their child but within specific broad parameters set in the law. The law makes it clear that parents have the right to reach private agreements outside of the courts to resolve any family disputes.  The law gives more control to the parents as they can set their own terms.

When parents fail to enter an agreement about their child support dispute and go to a court to settle for them, then the  case law and statutes law take effect. The law guides the judge on how to manage child support for the parents before them.

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