Whether as part of a divorce or for unmarried parents, supporting children is one of the most important goals – both financially and emotionally – for children. When it comes to financial funding, child support plays a crucial role in ensuring children receive the resources they need to thrive. Washington state has several laws that deal with child support that are important to your case.
Child support is determined based on several factors, including the income of each parent, the number of children, and the amount of time each parent spends with the children. The Washington State Legislature has established guidelines for determining child support, which are set out in RCW 26.19.020. These guidelines provide a formula for calculating the amount of child support that a parent must pay based on their income and the number of children they have.
Under RCW 26.19.020, the basic child support obligation is calculated based on the parents' combined net income. Net income is calculated by subtracting certain expenses, such as taxes, from the parent's gross income. Once the net income is determined, the basic child support obligation is calculated by applying a percentage based on the number of children. For example, if the parents' combined net income is $5,000 per month and they have one child, the basic child support obligation would be $951 (as of this blog post!).
However, the basic child support obligation may be adjusted based on several factors, including the amount of time each parent spends with the children, the costs of daycare or other childcare, and any extraordinary medical expenses. These adjustments are set out in RCW 26.19.071.
Under RCW 26.19.071, the court may deviate from the basic child support obligation if the deviation is in the best interests of the child. For example, if one parent has primary custody of the children and incurs significant daycare expenses, the court may adjust the child support obligation to reflect these expenses. Additionally, if one parent has a significant income and the other parent has little or no income, the court may adjust the child support obligation to ensure that the children's needs are adequately met.
It's important to note that child support is not only the responsibility of non-custodial parents. Both parents have a duty to support their children, and the court will consider the income of both parents when determining the child support obligation. Additionally, child support is not meant to be punitive to either parent. It is intended to ensure that children receive the financial support they need to thrive.
Child support may be simple to determine in certain situations, but with many exceptions to the rules and possibilities for deviation, it can also be very complicated. The guidelines for determining child support are set out in RCW 26.19.020, and adjustments to the basic child support obligation may be made based on factors such as daycare expenses and extraordinary medical expenses, as set out in RCW 26.19.071. At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS, we are here to help parents navigate the complexities of child support and ensure that their children receive the support they need. Call today for a free case evaluation.