How do Child Support Orders Work?

If children are involved in a divorce, financial care of a child or children is one of the most important matters to resolve. In Washington State, each parent pays a proportional share of the support of the children. That share of the estimated cost of raising the children is based on each parent’s income.

It is not uncommon to have the parent who is not raising the children in their home pay a certain amount of money to the other parent in monthly installments. The parent who is primarily raising the children in their home adds some of their own funds to cover expenses.

So how does the court decide how much each parent will pay? The estimated cost of raising children is determined using a state developed worksheet. This formula-based worksheet looks at a number of factors, including the ages and number of children involved, and the combined income of both parents.

Most child support is paid through the state Division of Child Support, and is usually collected by garnishing a parent’s wages. If a parent fails to pay child support, the state can get the funds by other means, including seizing bank accounts and tax refunds. If support gets too far behind, a parent can even have his or her driver’s license suspended.

If you are having trouble collecting child support, you can contact the Washington State Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Child Support. This agency can enforce child support orders and penalties for nonpayment. You may also want to consider contacting an attorney to see what steps can be taken through private enforcement.

In addition, child support can be modified based on a substantial change in circumstances and income for either parent. There is also a statutory right to have child support adjusted every two years. Child support laws and regulations change frequently.  This makes contacting an attorney on these issues important, especially since children are involved.