Child support is an issue in every family law case involving children. Many parties initially believe that child support is intrinsically tied to a parenting plan. For example, a parent provides support so long as he or she has visitation with their child. However, the Washington State statute prohibits child support from having any bearing on a visitation schedule or vice versa.
Support obligations are set according to a statutory formula. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has a worksheet tool that can assist you in estimating child support. The worksheet tool may be found at the Washington State Child Support Calculator. The child support worksheets were updated by state law in October 2009. However, the calculator tool has yet to be updated by the State of Washington. As such, this calculation is an estimate.
Calculating child support is not a straight forward process. Often, incomes are determined upon a party’s current wage, which may then be calculated to full time basis. Deductions may be taken into consideration where they are required for retirement and/or union dues. The more complicated your financial affairs are, the more critical it is that you have an experienced family law attorney to assist you in determining the correct amount of child support. Depending upon your specific situation, you may be entitled to a deviation (departure) from the standard calculated amount in the worksheets.
SUPPORT BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL
Child support orders are typically entered through the child’s eighteenth birthday or graduation from high school, whichever occurs last. In the event the parents decide a child shall continue on to college, a form of support is entered to assist the child while he or she attends college. While it is not technically called child support, it is a form of support which requires both parents to assist with higher education expenses. The court will determine the parties combined net income, which determines each parents’ pro rata share. The resulting percentage is used to allocate a responsibility for the extra ordinary expenses. These are the percentages, based on which parents will be required to reimburse extra curricular activities. In some jurisdictions, courts have utilized this percentage to determine post-secondary educational expense responsibility. It is important to remember that the court does not have jurisdiction to order any post secondary expenses once the child turns eighteen or graduates from high school. As such, it is important to speak with an attorney and have those requests filed before the child support terminates.
In the event a parent stops providing support for a child, there are a number of manners in which support can be enforced.
Ms. Murphy works closely with her clients to ensure all of the financial information is available when calculating child support worksheets. There are a number of modifications which can be made to the worksheets if there is evidence of deductions, or if there is a basis for deviation from the standard child support amount. Quite often, the difference in the calculation is making sure the client has the proper information and provides that to the court.