How Are Child Support Payments Determined In Washington State?

Child custody and child support are often the most difficult aspects of a Washington State divorce. Unlike deciding upon property or alimony, child custody, visitation, and support involve the hard and complicated task of reforming your family without inflicting damage on your loved ones.

Child support, in which one spouse pays the other in order to help with the costs of raising the family, is determined through a number of different factors in Washington State. Very simply put, however, your child support payments will be based on your income, the number of children you have, and any special needs that your children have. During the court process, you will be asked to fill out a Washington State Child Support Schedule Worksheet, which will largely determine how much you will pay. However, other issues may come into play in your own unique case that are not included in the worksheet.

Your child support amount may depend upon:

•    Your income. Your total gross monthly income is very important in deciding how much you will pay in child support. This income will include your wages as well as interest, income from property, or any other support that you have. However, the courts will also take into consideration how much you pay in taxes, business expenses, retirement savings, and other expenses.
•    You and your ex-spouse’s assets and debts. If you or your ex own multiple properties, have a lot in the bank, or have significant investments, this may affect your child support payments. In the same way, if either of you are struggling with significant debt, this could also play a role in the court’s decision.
•    The expense of raising your children. This includes how many children you have and how old they are. Children can be very expensive when you start adding up their needs, which could include health care costs, daycare costs, education costs, and the cost of traveling between parents.
•    Your children’s past standard of care. Judges make decisions in the best interest of your children, and it is important to them that children feel a minimal amount of change during a divorce.

If you live in Washington and are struggling with getting a fair decision when it comes to child custody and child support payments, talk with a child support attorney today. Make sure that you and your children are treated fairly.

How Income Is Used to Calculate Child Support in Washington State

As we have discussed, calculating child support payments is not a simple matter. In fact, it requires a significant amount of information, including your assets and debts, the needs of your children, how many children you have, and your children’s past standard of living. But perhaps the most important factor that decides your child support payments is your current income.

The Following Factors Should Be Added Together to Determine Your Gross Monthly Income:

  • Wages and salaries, if you hold a job or jobs.
  • Income from working overtime or working a second job.
  • Social Security benefits or disability benefits.
  • Veterans’ disability benefits.
  • Interest and dividend income from investments and savings.
  • Business income, if you own and operate a business.
  • Workers’ compensation, in most cases.
  • Maintenance received, such as alimony.
  • Rental income, if you own and lease out a rental property.  
  • Other income, such as lottery winnings or bonuses from your job.
  • Imputed income – When a person avoids paying for services by providing the services themselves.

The Following Factors Should Be Deducted From Your Gross Monthly Income:

  • Federal and state income taxes.
  • Self-employment taxes, if you are self-employed.
  • FICA (Social Security and Medicare).
  • State industrial insurance deductions.
  • Mandatory union dues and other professional dues.
  • Maintenance paid, such as alimony.
  • Business expenses.

You should note that while income is generally defined as money you receive during any given month, there are some exceptions, such as accounts receivable, gifts, or the return of principal.

In order to better grasp how much your child support payments may be, you may wish download a Washington State Child Support schedule, available through the Washington State government. If you need legal advice or assistance with filling out the schedule, you may wish to speak with an experienced Seattle family law attorney. Call the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny today to learn more 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny