Spokane Child Support Lawyer
Effective Legal Help for Child Support Cases
As in all states, the state of Washington requires parents to equitably support their children. Courts can order one or both parents to pay child support, although generally, it is the noncustodial parent who is required to pay. Courts assume that the parent with whom the child mainly resides will be spending the amount needed to care for the child’s needs.
What Is the Basic Child Support Obligation in Washington State?
Child support obligations are mandated by statute, and are based upon the combined net monthly incomes of the parents and the number of children for whom support must be paid. Once the combined net monthly incomes are determined, one must look to the “child support economic table” to determine the total monthly child support obligation. To determine each parent’s proportionate share of the total monthly support obligation, one determines each parent’s respective portion of the total combined net monthly incomes and multiplies that proportion times the total monthly support amount.
The Court may deviate upwards or downwards in a parent’s monthly support obligation if certain factors are met, and if doing so does not leave either parent incapable of financially meeting the basic needs of the child when in their care. In addition to the basic monthly child support, parents are obligated to share in payment for other extraordinary child-related expenses—such as work-related day care, uninsured medical or dental expenses, and long-distance transportation costs for parents living far from each other in the same proportion as their monthly support obligations.
If you need legal assistance with any aspect of child support, whether establishing it in a high-conflict, high-asset divorce, separation, or paternity situation, seeking a modification of an existing support order, or enforcing an existing support order, you can rely on me as a Spokane child support attorney. My family law firm, Ellen M. Hendrick PLLC, has been representing individuals in complex family law matters since 2003. I have experience handling even the most complex situations involving child support.
Reach out to Ellen M. Hendrick PLLC to discuss your child support case at (509) 402-2248.
What Are the New Child Support Laws in Washington State?
The Washington State Legislature passed new child support laws in 2019. The new laws make some changes to the way child support is calculated and enforced in Washington state.
One of the most significant changes is that the new laws eliminate the age brackets previously used to calculate child support. Under the old system, parents with children under 12 paid a lower percentage of their income in child support than parents over 12. The new system calculates child support based on the combined income of the parents and the number of children in the family, regardless of their ages.
The new laws make it easier for parents to modify child support orders. Under the old system, parents had to return to court to change their orders, which could be time-consuming and expensive. The laws also allow parents to modify their orders online or by mail, which is more convenient and affordable.
The new laws also make it easier to enforce child support orders. The new laws allow parents to implement orders through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which can garnish wages, collect bank accounts, and suspend driver's licenses.
Washington State's new child support laws are designed to make the system more fair and efficient for parents to calculate and enforce their child support orders, which can help to ensure that children receive the financial support they need.
When Can You Modify a Child Support Order?
Washington state allows for reviewing and modifying child support payments every two years. You can, however, seek a modification before the two-year requirement if there has been a substantial change in your life, your child’s life, or your financial circumstances.
Seeking to adjust child support can be based on a number of factors, including:
- A change in where the child mainly resides
- A change in the income of a parent
- Unforeseen medical expenses due to an injury or illness
- The number of children being supported has changed
What is the Penalty for Not Paying Child Support in Washington State?
If a parent fails to pay child support, he or she may be held in contempt of court and be subject to a fine, jail time, or other court-ordered penalties. Parents may agree that support payments will be made directly to the receiving parent or a parent may request the Division of Child Support to enforce and collect monthly child support obligations. Failure to pay child support could result in the loss of one’s driver’s license and the Division of Child Support seizing the tax refunds of the obligated parent.
Child support orders remain in effect until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school; whichever is later. If a parent wishes to obtain an order for child support for a child entering college, that parent must petition the court for post-secondary support before the child’s 18th birthday or graduation from high school.
The petitioning parent must show that the child, while attending college, is dependent upon the parents for their basic needs, has achieved academic standing for success at college, and that the parents have the financial ability to continue to pay for college support.
There is no set formula for the Court to determine which parent pays what percentage of the post-secondary support, as each case is determined by its unique facts. However, it is likely that the child will be required to pay a portion of his or her college-related costs.
As a Spokane child support attorney, I can assist you in enforcing the support you need through the court.
Contact my firm in Spokane, WA, at (509) 402-2248 for legal help today.
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