Calculating Child Support
Navigating child support matters in a Washington divorce is challenging in many ways. Besides needing possibly struggling with the thought of things not turning out how you think they should, the fact that money is involved only adds another layer of complication.
The standard method of calculating child support in Washington State is generally based on the income and custody agreement between the parents. The parent who does not have primary custody of the children typically pays child support. However, an income disparity that exists between the parents can significantly affect which parent pays child support.
For example, if parents have a 50/50 schedule, they may argue for no transfer of child support since they are equally sharing the costs of raising the children. However, suppose there is a significant income disparity between the parents. In that case, the court may still order child support to account for the financial capacity of each parent.
The calculation of child support follows a standardized method. The combined income of both parents is determined, and this total income is then referenced. The court then takes into account the number of children involved. The court uses a chart that provides an amount per child based on the income level of the parents. The respective percentages of the total income for each parent are calculated based on their individual incomes.
For instance, if the combined income of both parents is $9,000 per month and they have two children, the standard child support per child may be $800, resulting in a total child support amount of $1,600. The percentages are then applied to determine each parent’s responsibility for child support. For example, suppose the percentage split is determined to be 55% for one parent and 45% for the other. In that case, the corresponding amount of child support is allocated accordingly.
It is important to note that there may be circumstances where deviations from the standard calculation are warranted. These deviations can occur if there are additional children from a new relationship, significant changes in income, or other factors that impact the parents’ financial situation and the children’s well-being. Deviations can be either upward or downward depending on the circumstances and are subject to the court’s discretion.
In cases where there is a substantial income disparity, child support may be adjusted to account for the standard of living the children had when the parents were together. This is done to ensure that the children can continue to maintain a similar standard of living even after the separation or divorce.
A Child’s Right
Child support is a right of the child. As such, child support is always addressed in divorce cases where children are involved and affected by the parents’ separation. Parents do not have the right to deny or waive child support. While deviations from the standard child support calculation can occur, child support will still be ordered to meet the child’s needs.
Deviation from the standard child support calculation can be upward or downward; parties may agree to deviate to a lower amount or even to zero. Even if this is so, the court can refuse a proposal if it determines it would not sufficiently provide for the child. The court’s primary concern is the best interests of the child.
Child support orders can be reviewed every two years or upon a substantial change in circumstances until the child reaches the age of 18. This means that even if the parties initially agree to a particular arrangement, it can be modified later if there is still a significant income disparity or a demonstrated need for child support.