Child Support: How to Pay, Who Sets the Amount, and How Much You Could Get

In many divorce cases, parents are less concerned about their own welfare than that of their children. The cost of food and mortgage payments are just the beginning; your kids always need new clothes, shoes, and money for school trips. Will child support be enough to cover all of their needs?

How Much Child Support Could I Receive?

The amount of child support you could receive depends on both parents' income, how many children you have, and the ages of the children who need support. The amount is typically paid by the non-custodial parent and is estimated using the Washington State Child Support Schedule Calculator. After each parent completes a worksheet with his or her financial information, and the needs of the children, the parents will be sent a child support schedule outlining the basic support they may expect. However, the final amount must be approved before payments can begin.

Who Will Approve the Amount of Child Support in My Case?

There are two ways child support may be ordered. The first is through a court order, usually as part of the divorce agreement. A judge will set the amount the parent owing support must pay each month; if you intend to argue this amount, you will have to appear in court to do so.

If you do not receive a court order setting support, you may be sent a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR) from the Division of Child Support (DCS) after your divorce is processed. The NFFR will advise you on the amount of your monthly support payment, plus any back support you may owe. If you disagree with the amount, you may contact DCS for an appeal.

How Do I Pay Child Support?

Payments should not be sent directly to the other parent, as there must be a written record of the payments in order for you to get credit for providing support. Instead, your payments should be sent to the Washington State Support Registry. You may give additional funds to your spouse or children directly, but you must understand that there will be no official record of these payments and the money will not count toward your monthly support payments.

Are you worried that your spouse will not be able to make the payments you need to provide for your children? Read more about how to solve common problems before your divorce is finalized in our book, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
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