Divorce is often a stressful and messy affair. There’s financial and proprietary accommodations, emotionally draining issues to solve, and for many spouses, special considerations to make for their children. When it comes to your kids, you want to know you’re doing what’s best for them. During a divorce or legal separation, it is in the best interest of the child that both parents support their child financially. This support obligation continues until they are emancipated or no longer dependent upon the parents.
No child should have their opportunities limited or taken away from them because of their parents’ relationship. To ensure kids can emerge from divorce as unscathed as possible, courts will usually order one parent to pay child support.
Child support is a series of court-ordered payments, normally paid by the non-residential parent to ensure the child shares in the same standard of living as both parents. In some cases, child support may be ordered in shared parenting schedules as well. Other family law matters, such as relocation, or a major modification of the parenting plan may also address child support.
How is child support calculated in Washington?
Washington uses a particular set of guidelines (commonly referred to as child support economic table) to calculate the correct amount of support a parent may be required to pay for their support of a child. Whether you are seeking to establish child support for the first time in conjunction with a divorce or parentage proceeding or looking to modify an existing support order, these support guidelines calculate the child support obligation using each parent’s monthly net income.
Once child support has been calculated, a court may then consider other “equitable” factors (e.g., overnight residential credit, other children in need of support, expense sharing, etc.) which may affect the final transfer payment from one parent to the other. However, these considerations are discretionary, rather than mandatory. An experienced family law lawyer can explain this in more detail.
Above and beyond the mere calculation of support there are many other considerations that must be addressed such as: method and timing of payment, enforcement, possible “post-secondary education” expenses, uninsured medical expenses, income tax exemptions, etc. When asked, our clients will often remark that the most surprising element of a child support order is that costs for day care, education, and often clubs, sports and extracurricular expenses are not included in the basic child support payment!
Why you need a child support attorney
The child support calculation process can be very complicated as it is at all times subject to the broad discretion of the court. Results can vary a great deal from one case to the next. Therefore, it is vital that you seek the advice of a Washington family law lawyer experienced in the jurisdiction in which your child support matter is to be heard.
Unfortunately, sometimes one parent will refuse to comply with child support order to include payments. If you find yourself dealing with an uncooperative former spouse, your best option is hiring a lawyer to address enforcement actions. Enforcing child support orders can be incredibly difficult to manage alone without the expertise of a child support lawyer looking out for you and your child’s best interests.
A competent family law lawyer, experienced in child support issues will ensure that every relevant detail has been considered in an effort to secure an accurate child support order, including income verification and any applicable allowances that could impact the amount of the order. Which parent is paying for the children’s health insurance, day care, education and other considerations could also significantly change the final amount ordered.
Contact a child support lawyer in Vancouver
To schedule a consultation to discuss child support options, contact our experienced Vancouver family law lawyers at Spencer & Sundstrom. We have helped hundreds of clients in Vancouver and throughout Washington state sort through a variety of child support-related issues. After an initial consultation, we will thoroughly review your case and expectations. We never make promises we can’t keep, but you can rely on us to pursue every option to provide sound legal counsel to you and your family.