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Child Support 101

Child support payments are intended to pay for the normal and ordinary expenses of raising a child, such as housing, food, clothing, education and medical care. Washington, like most states, uses Child Support Laws and Guidelines that are set by the state legislature to determine the correct amount of child support to be awarded. The court may also consider the needs and age of the children, the financial ability of the non-custodial parent, the earning capacity of the custodial parent, and the other responsibilities of both parents. Child support is addressed when couples who have a child or children and are in a divorce, legal separation, paternity, or non-parental custody case. Click here to calculate the amount of child support that would be applicable for your situation.

Some child support is self-paid - the payor simply sends a check every month to the payee in the amount ordered by the court. What happens if the payor doesn't pay, stops paying, or doesn't pay the correct amount? In most cases, a person who wishes to enforce a support order hires an attorney to enforce the order. The attorney will usually first contact the non-payor to insist that timely payment be made. If that doesn’t work, the next step is usually to file a contempt action in court to compel payment. In cases where enforcement is requested and granted, the Washington State Division of Child Support (DCS) will provide enforcement services. DCS has a number of ways to collect court ordered child support and medical insurance payments. These include income withholding, credit reporting, tax refund deductions, passport revocation or restriction, property and/or bank account liens, license (driver’s, professional, and recreational) denial, and federal prosecution.

If you do not agree with the amount of your child support payments, there are several ways to modify a Washington State support order. You can hire an attorney to help you modify the order, you can petition the court yourself, or you can request that DCS review your particular case. DCS will only review a case if they determine that they have jurisdiction.

Contact us if you have a child and are in a divorce, legal separation, paternity, or non-parental custody case and need to address child support.

Caleb Morgan