When a Person Loses Parental Rights in Washington, Do they Still Pay Child Support?
Parents have a general duty to provide financial support for their child. In Washington, the parent without primary physical custody may be required to pay child support. Under state law (RCW 26.19.011), basic child support is a monthly financial obligation that is determined based on the net income of the parents.
This raises an important question: Does a parent who has had their rights terminated still have to pay child support? The short answer is “it depends”—loss of effective parental rights may or may not lead to a termination of child support responsibilities. Here, our Spokane child support attorney explains what to know about loss of parental rights and child support in Washington.
An Overview of Termination of Parental Rights and Child Support
Parents are responsible for their children. Child support laws exist to help ensure that parents live up to their obligations. Whether a parent will still be required to pay child support after losing rights depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Here are three things to understand about loss of parental rights and child support obligations in Washington:
- A Court Will Not Allow a Parent to Give Up Parental Rights to Get Out of Child Support: First and foremost, it is important to emphasize that a Washington court will not allow a parent to voluntarily relinquish rights to avoid their child support obligations. If a court believes that a parent is trying to give up rights to get out of child support, it can require the parent to keep paying.
- Loss of Parental Rights Could Potentially End Responsibility for Child Support: While Washington courts do not allow parents to dodge child support through relinquishing rights, the loss of parental rights could sometimes result in the end of a parent’s child support responsibility. Whether that will occur depends on the specific circumstances.
- Child Support Will be Extinguished if the Child is Simultaneously Adopted: In Washington, a non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support will be terminated if the child is adopted at the same time that their rights are terminated. As an example, imagine that a child’s mother has remarried. The child’s biological father is largely absent. The child’s stepfather wants to pursue legal adoption. If the child’s biological father agrees to voluntarily relinquish parental rights so that the stepfather can complete a legal adoption, the biological father’s child support responsibilities would be extinguished.
Child support cases are notoriously complicated—especially the voluntary or involuntary relinquishment of a parent’s legal rights. If you have any specific questions or concerns about child support responsibilities in Washington, our Spokane family law attorneys are standing by, ready to provide guidance.
Get Help From a Child Support Lawyer in Spokane, Washington
At Hodgson Law Office, our Spokane family law attorneys have the skills and experience to handle the full range of child custody and child support cases. If you have any questions about parental rights and child support, we are here to help. Contact us now for a fully confidential review and evaluation of your case. We represent parents throughout Eastern Washington, including in Spokane County, Whitman County, Adams County, Lincoln County, and Ferry County.