How is the Maximum Amount of Child Support Determined in WA?

Washington parents who share a child, but are no longer together as a couple will undoubtedly understand that there will likely be child support involved. Few, however, are completely aware as to all the different rules and calculations that go into how much will be paid under state law. The state has guidelines in place that limit the amounts that will be paid with what is similar to a floor and a ceiling. It generally will not go beneath the floor, and it cannot go above the ceiling. Knowing how this is determined is important for both parents as they plan for the future. The following deals with the highest amount that a parent must pay.

There is a limit of 45 percent of the parent’s net income. Neither parent will be required to pay more than 45 percent of their net income for their biological and legal children. This can be altered if there is just cause for doing so. The children are entitled to receive a proportionate amount of the income for child support. This is also known as “pro rata.” It is only applicable for the children who are involved in the case that is before the court and not for other children a parent might have.

Prior to the determination as to whether the 45 percent limit is applicable, the court has to decide if it is unjust to use this limitation after the best interests of the child and the situations of the parents are considered. If, for example, the 45 percent amount would leave the custodial parent unable to have the money to meet the child’s basic needs, it can be adjusted. If there is significant wealth, daycare costs, special medical issues, educational needs, psychological needs and larger families, these will be taken into consideration as good cause to go beyond the 45 percent.

While the majority of parents will want to make certain that their children are properly cared for and have everything they need, income often comes into play. The child support formula and the maximum amount that must be paid according to the law is an integral part of the decision. Those who have questions or concerns about this issue should contact and discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in assisting with child support calculation as soon as possible.

Source:, “RCW 26.19.065 Standards for establishing lower and upper limits on child support amounts.,” accessed on Nov. 3, 2015