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Lakewood Child Support

Expert Lakewood Child Support Attorneys Advocate For Your Rights

Child support is a complex issue for most parents. It's challenging to balance what you want for your child and what your pocketbook can afford. This is when our Lakewood child support attorneys come in. We understand the financial complexities behind child support and the nuances of Washington state law, enabling us to fight for what is fair for your child and protect your financial future. If you're facing a child support case, here is what you need to know.

The Basics Of Washington Child Support

Washington's child support regulations ensure that parents equally share the financial responsibility for their children's care after a breakup or divorce. Using the Income Shares Model to calculate child support, it considers the income of both parents and how many children need support. Courts review various income sources, like paychecks, bonuses, commissions, and rental earnings. If a parent is not working or is earning less by choice, Pierce County courts might add imputed income to the calculation.

Washington has a standard chart to determine essential child support payments. It considers the parents’ total income and the number of children and helps set the payment amount. The courts may adjust the amount for reasons like how much time each parent spends with the child, childcare expenses, medical costs, and any special needs the child might have. While a parent who spends more time with the child could get a credit that lowers their child support payment, courts expect both parents to cover their children's medical needs, including health insurance or paying medical bills.

Child support usually lasts until the child reaches 18 years of age or completes high school. For children with disabilities, support may continue past this age. Significant changes in When a parent's income or the child's requirements significantly change, child support orders may be adjusted. However, failure to pay child support can result in severe penalties, such as direct wage garnishment, tax refund interception, license suspensions, or criminal charges.

Am I Legally Obligated To Pay Child Support In Washington?

In Washington, the law requires both parents to support their children financially. This obligation generally extends to biological parents, adoptive parents, and sometimes even step-parents or individuals who have established a legal parent-child relationship with the child in question. The obligation typically arises when parents are separated or divorced, or parentage is legally determined. Yet, details may change based on each case's unique aspects and the court's decision. Consulting a legal expert is crucial to grasping the exact responsibilities in any given scenario.

How Can I Obtain Child Support?

To obtain child support in Pierce County, Washington, you will need to follow these general steps:

  1. Determine Child Support Eligibility: You must be the custodial parent of the child or children for whom you're seeking child support.
  2. Contact The Washington Division Of Child Support (DCS): To initiate the process, you can contact the Division of Child Support (DCS), the state agency responsible for establishing and enforcing child support orders.
  3. Complete a Child Support Application: You must complete an application for child support services, which you can do online through the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) website or by visiting a local DCS office.
  4. Provide Necessary Information: Information about yourself, the other parent, and the child or children involved must be provided. This may include names, addresses, employment information, and any existing court orders or agreements related to custody and support.
  5. Establish Paternity: If you have not established paternity, DCS can assist by using genetic testing or other methods to confirm paternity.
  6. Attend Meetings and Hearings: As part of the child support establishment process, you may need to attend meetings or hearings such as mediation sessions, administrative hearings, or court appearances.
  7. Reach an Agreement or Obtain a Court Order: Once you establish paternity and gather the necessary information, DCS works to establish a child support order. The process may involve agreeing with the other parent or obtaining a court order through a legal proceeding.

Suppose the other parent fails to comply with the child support order. In this case, the DCS can take enforcement actions to ensure payment, such as wage garnishment, interception of tax refunds, or other legal remedies. Throughout this process, it's essential to keep detailed records of all communications, meetings, and documents related to child support. For any questions or assistance, contact DCS or consult a Lakewood child support attorney.

Do I Need To Establish Paternity To Pursue Child Support In Washington?

In Pierce County, establishing paternity is generally necessary to pursue child support through legal channels. Suppose paternity is established through marriage to the child's mother at birth, acknowledgment of paternity, or other legal means. In that case, it's not necessary to establish it again. Once you establish paternity, the custodial parent can pursue child support through DCS or the court system. Because each case may have specific circumstances, it’s important to consult with a family law attorney in Lakewood. 

Do I Need An Attorney For My Pierce County Child Support Case?

A Lakewood child support lawyer could be your greatest ally. Here are just some of the benefits of working with one:

  1. Navigate Complex Cases: If your case involves complicated legal issues such as contested paternity, significant financial assets, or custody disputes, it may be beneficial to have legal representation.
  2. Use Legal Knowledge and Expertise: An attorney's insight into family law and the court system can be invaluable if you're unfamiliar with these areas, helping safeguard your rights and interests.
  3. Negotiate with Support: An attorney can represent you in negotiations with the other side or their lawyer, improving your chances for a favorable result. If your case goes to trial, they can represent your interests before the judge.
  4. Receive Emotional Support: Dealing with child support legal matters can be emotionally taxing. An attorney can offer emotional support and help reduce the stress of the process.

Hiring an attorney for your Pierce County child support case is a personal choice. It might be helpful to speak with several attorneys to understand your situation better and consider your options before deciding.

How Does A Child Support Attorney Support My Case?

A child support attorney offers a broad range of legal services to ensure children's financial well-being. Here are some of the ways they can help:

  • Establish Child Support Orders: Attorneys assist clients in filing petitions for child support as part of divorce proceedings or as a standalone action if the parents were never married. They also help calculate the appropriate amount of support under Washington State guidelines, considering factors such as the income of both parents, the number of children, daycare expenses, health insurance costs, and any special needs of the children.
  • Modify Existing Orders: Circumstances change, and a child support order that once was fair and appropriate may become outdated. This is where the assistance of a child support attorney can be crucial. They assist in petitioning the court for modifications of orders due to significant changes in circumstances, like a parent's income change, job loss, or a change in the child's needs.
  • Enforce Child Support Orders: If a parent fails to pay child support, a child support attorney can help the custodial parent take legal action to enforce the order by either filing motions for contempt, seeking wage garnishment, placing liens on property, or working with state enforcement agencies.
  • Resolve Disputes: Attorneys often engage in negotiations or mediation to resolve disputes over child support without resorting to litigation, saving both parties time and money. They work to reach amicable agreements that serve the child's best interests.
  • Representation In Court: If you cannot resolve disputes outside of court, a child support attorney represents and advocates for their client's interests in hearings or trials, presenting evidence and arguments to support their client's position regarding child support.
  • Paternity Issues: In child support cases where paternity is in question, a child support attorney guides clients through establishing paternity, a prerequisite for a father's obligation to pay child support and for a mother to receive it.
  • Consultation and Advice: Child support attorneys provide crucial legal guidance to help you understand your rights and responsibilities. They offer strategic guidance on navigating the complexities of the child support system, ensuring that clients are well-informed and prepared for the legal process.

By performing these duties, a child support attorney in Pierce County, Washington helps ensure that children receive the financial support they are entitled to for their upbringing. Their work is vital in facilitating fair and just outcomes that uphold the child's best interests while respecting both parents' financial realities.

Where Can I Find A Child Support Attorney In Pierce County?

Look no further if you're looking to hire a child support attorney in Lakewood. Our expert child support legal team has decades of experience representing parents in Pierce County courts. We'll assess your legal options, provide guidance throughout your child support case, and ensure the best outcome for your child. Contact us now to get started right away.

Client Reviews
Laurie has worked on my very challenging and contentious divorce and I could not have asked for a better family law attorney. She was able to handle all of the twists and turns of my case with ease. I highly recommend Laurie to anyone looking for an excellent, ethical and hard working counselor. Chandler
Laurie is an incredible divorce lawyer! She did an amazing job with my divorce, and it was a real dog fight the whole way. She is a true fighter. And you can tell that she really cares about her family law clients and the results that she achieves for them. John
My lawyer guided me through a very challenging time in my life when I was going through my divorce. She worked hard and explained every step of the way what was going on so I could understand the process. I was very happy with her work. Barbel