Five Important Aspects Of Washington State Child Support Law You Should Know
In Washington State, Child Support arrangements and services are administered by the Division Of Child Support (DCS) within the Department Of Social And Health Services. The division maintains a portal for support payments and administers the regulations set by state law. Here are the five things you should know if you are involved in shared custody and/or support of a minor.
1. Washington sets child support responsibilities according to a formula that incorporates the income of both parents, as well as the age and number of the dependent minor(s). The monthly amount of mandated support determined by this method can range between $200 and $3500— a maximum which is reached when the combined monthly parental income reaches around $12000 at which point support payments are capped.
The amount of child support is seen as what’s needed to cover the basic expenses entailed in child care, particularly food, clothing and housing. This formula is applied state-wide, without adjusting for varying costs of living between counties or other localities. In cases in which a child’s special needs entail additional expenses (such as for special equipment or medical care), the court can order a deviation from the standard formula.
2. Child support payments usually continue until the child turns 18 years old, or 19 years old if they are still in high school. This means that the child support payments will not stop automatically when the child turns 18. The court can also approve college expenses past the age of 18 to be included in a child support arrangement; this requires an appearance in family court before the child in question turns 18 or graduates from high school.
3. Parents can agree on a different payment schedule than what is ordered, but it must be approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree on a payment schedule, or if the court finds the agreed-upon arrangement insufficient for the child’s interests, the court will stipulate the arrangement despite the parents’ mutual agreement.
4. If a parent does not pay the mandated child support order, the other parent (usually the custodial party) can take them to court. Penalties include fines and jail time for contempt. In addition, the court can order that the delinquent parent’s drivers license be suspended, as well as any state-administered professional license. In more serious circumstances, criminal charges may be levied.
In cases in which one or both parents lives on an Indian Reservation or trust land, the DCS works with tribal governments and the State Tribal Relations Unit to address the situation.
5. While the court can order fines, jail time, and sanctions for child support non-compliance as discussed above, it cannot deny visitation or shared custodial rights to the delinquent parent for reasons of non-payment of support. Moreover, a parent can seek to modify a child support order if circumstances have changed; to do so requires an appearance before and approval by a family court judge.
To find out more about the process, contact our experienced attorneys at Hodgson Law Office today at (866) 756-5661