Calculating Child Support in Washington
In Washington State, child support is calculated by a formula set out by the legislature. Somewhat like your federal tax forms, there is both a worksheet for making the calculation, and a set of instructions for how to complete the worksheet. A Seattle family lawyer in our office can help you with the calculations (secret – we have a computer program that makes it MUCH easier).
Washington’s Child Support Table
Also like with your federal income taxes, after you have made the basic calculations, there is a table for the amount of basic child support. This is based on the net family income as well as the number of children. There used to also be a factor for the age of the children, but this was eliminated in the 2019 update to the schedule.
How Do Net Incomes Factor in to Child Support?
In coming up with the net family income, your Seattle family lawyer will use the full time income of both parents. If one parent does not have full time income, but is capable of earning a full time income, then normally the state will impute a full time income to that person. Of course there can be arguments as to what income that parent is capable of earning.
Once we have an income figure for each parent, your Seattle family lawyer will then subtract some but not all deductions that are taken out of their pay. For instance, to avoid people being able to artificially lower their income through income deferral, voluntary retirement contributions are capped at $5000 per year. You can still contribute more, you just won’t get credit in the child support calculation.
Child Support Calculated For Both Parents
Contrary to many people’s assumptions, BOTH parents have a child support obligation. The basic child support obligation is divided between the parents according to the percentages of their relative incomes. For instance, if parent A makes $3000 per month and the parent B makes $6000 per month, parent A’s obligation would be 1/3 of the total child support and parent B’s obligation would be 2/3 of the total child support.
HOWEVER, and this is important to understand, the schedule focuses on making that money available for the children only in the children’s primary home. This means that the parent with the children a majority of the time is presumed to be spending their share of the support obligation in their own home, while the other parent pays their share of the support to the parent the children are living with the majority of the time. You may want to discuss this point further with your Seattle family lawyer.
Next, if there are extra expenses that are not included in the basic support, such as day care or health insurance (these are not included in the basic support because they vary so much from family to family), these expenses are also divided between the parents by the same percentages of income as the basic child support.
Deviations From The Basic Calculation
To allow for some situations where there may be one child living primarily with parent A, while another child lives primarily with parent B, there is an additional split custody calculation for your Seattle family lawyer to run that offsets the respective obligations between the parents.
In some other situations the court can choose to deviate from the basic child support calculations. Reasons for deviation can include:
- Unusual wealth
- Tax planning
- Children from other relationships
- Significant amount of time spent with the other parent (especially if there is a 50/50 parenting plan)
Call Our Firm Today To Speak with a Seattle Family Lawyer
Make sure to discuss your potential child support with your Seattle family lawyer early in your case so you can start planning your realistic financial future. To schedule an appointment, we can be reached through the form on our website, or you can call us at 206-784-3049.