Initiating Child Support During Divorce
Child support can be addressed during a divorce by filing temporary family law orders. These temporary orders remain in effect until the case is finalized, and they may include provisions for child support. In cases where parents are living separately, the primary parent may still require financial assistance, and the temporary child support order can facilitate that.
It is possible to initiate the calculation of child support on a temporary basis at the outset of the case. Additionally, even if the parents have been separated for an extended period without initiating divorce proceedings, they can still seek child support by going to the Department of Child Support. Proof of paternity is typically required, and the department will apply the standard calculation to issue an administrative order. This administrative order remains in effect until the superior court issues a separate order that supersedes it.
The Duration Of Child Support
In Washington, child support typically continues until the child reaches the age of 18. However, six months before the child turns 18, the primary parent has the option to return to court and request post-secondary education support. Post-secondary education support extends the obligation to provide financial assistance for the child’s educational expenses beyond the age of 18.
Under this arrangement, the parent obligated to pay child support may be required to contribute to the child’s college tuition and living expenses while pursuing a four-year degree, ensuring the child has the necessary financial support to pursue higher education.
Monitoring Child Support Allocation: Payer’s Input and Legal Recourse
Generally, if you are the parent paying child support in a Washington divorce, you do not have direct control or say in how the receiving parent uses your child support payments. Child support is intended to contribute to the child’s basic needs and expenses, such as housing, food, and utilities. Yet, the receiving parent has some flexibility in allocating funds, assuming they are being used for the child.
While the receiving parent may use child support to cover various expenses, such as car payments or credit card bills, it can be argued that these indirectly benefit the child by providing transportation or purchasing groceries. The paying parent generally has limited recourse to challenge or control how the funds are allocated unless they provide evidence that the receiving parent is outright misusing the money they receive via child support payments. If the paying parent suspects this is the case, they may raise the issue in court. However, proving such misuse can be challenging, and it would require substantial evidence to demonstrate that the funds are not being appropriately utilized.
Modifying Child Support Orders
In Washington, a child support order can be reviewed every two years. This is because the state assumes most people’s income and the child’s needs change over time.
To modify a child support order within the two-year period, you would need to demonstrate a substantial change of circumstances. Simply losing a job or making less money than prior is not typically considered sufficient grounds for modifying child support. This process typically involves exchanging updated financial information, such as pay stubs, and running new calculations based on the current circumstances. The revised child support order can be signed if both parties agree to the adjustment. If not, a motion can be filed with the court to initiate the modification process.
When assessing whether a substantial change has occurred, courts consider factors such as income, economic reasons, and whether the change was voluntary or involuntary. For example, if someone is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court will take that into account during the modification process.
While modifying child support is typically easier than modifying a parenting plan, it is still difficult to accomplish since it requires a substantial change that can be challenging to prove.
For more information on Paying Child Support In A Washington Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 276-7390 today.