How much is child support? This is a question many people ask after a divorce or separation. In Washington, calculating child support depends on the custody arrangement and each parent’s income. In most cases, the parent who spends less time with the child or the non-custodial parent pays support to the other parent.
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has developed a child support schedule worksheet calculator to help you estimate the amount of money you ought to pay. But note that there are additional ways to calculate the amount of support necessary. Even so, the judge that presides over the case still has the final say on the amount of child support you’re required to pay.
The child support schedule worksheet calculator estimates the amount you’re required to pay based on the accuracy of the information you provide, such as:
- The number of children you have
- Age of the children
- Both parents’ combined income
The fee may also cover the child’s medical expenses and additional expenses such as education, depending on the court’s decision. Unless the court decides otherwise, parents can’t pay less than the Washington child support guideline amount, but they are not restricted to pay more if they want to. All the same, a judge has the final say on the amount of child support the parents pay and can increase or decrease the amount depending on other factors.
What Factors Impact Child Support Amount?
Several factors come into play when calculating child support, such as the parents’ gross and net incomes. Gross income can include the following:
- Military or veteran’s benefits
- Dividend, royalties, or interest money
If the non-custodial parent is unemployed, they may contribute to child support if they receive any of the following:
- Social security benefits
- Disability benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Workers’ compensation
Benefits excluded from gross income calculations include:
- Food stamps
Suppose one parent tries to avoid the responsibility of paying child support by voluntarily staying unemployed. In that case, the court can hold them accountable and assign an income based on factors such as:
- Work history
- Income history
If a parent willingly refuses to pay child support, the court can take the following actions:
- Garnish their wages
- Intercept their tax refunds
- Impose legal and financial penalties
You can also contact Washington’s Division of Child Support to get assistance in collecting from a deadbeat parent.
Child Support Amount in Washington?
So how much is child support in Washington? Here’s all you need to know.
After calculating the gross income for both parents, deductions are made to determine the net income for each parent. Child support is calculated by combining the net incomes of both parents and dividing it with their contribution to the combined net income.
For instance, if you and your ex-spouse have a net monthly income of $1,000, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services schedule dictates that both parents have to contribute $220 as monthly child support. If your income is 70% of the combined net income, you’ll pay $154 monthly while the other parent pays $66.
The Washington State DSHS child support schedule has the following guidelines:
- $50 is the lowest amount of monthly child support.
- Child support should not exceed 45% of a parent’s net income unless the court decides otherwise.
- The lowest combined amount of monthly net income should be $1,000.
Several factors may adjust the amount of child support; they include:
- Taxes and debt.
- Which parent has custody rights.
- Children from other marriages or relationships.
- Child support received or paid from other marriages or relationships.
- If the child receives extraordinary income.
- Non-recurring income.
Is Child Support Taxable Income?
Parents who receive child support don’t need to report it as taxable income.
When Can a Court Modify an Order?
Unless the child turns 18 years old, graduates from high school, or becomes emancipated, the child support order will be in full effect. After the child turns 18, you may stop paying for child support unless the child has disabilities, or the court decides otherwise based on special circumstances.
You can also modify the amount you pay based on the following factors:
- Change in the custody schedule
- Change in income for either parent.
- A medical emergency.
- Having a new baby from another relationship.
The court can also adjust the amount if a child support order has economic implications on either the child or parent.
How ZafiroLaw Can Help
Family law experts at ZafiroLaw can guide you if you need assistance with a child support case or calculating how much is child support in the state of Washington. Our qualified family law attorneys in Seattle can also help you enforce, collect or modify a child support order and other related issues.
ZafiroLaw helps clients in Seattle and surrounding counties such as King and Snohomish through child support cases of all kinds. Call us at 206-547-9906 or contact us today to schedule an appointment with a family law expert!