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Renton Child Support

Renton's Leading Child Support Attorneys Are On The Case

When the parents have decided to part ways, child support is one of the most stressful and conscientious parts of planning for a child's care. Count on our child support attorneys to protect your rights and work for your child’s best interests.

Whether you are facing your first child support plan or need to modify an existing agreement, our experienced King County legal team will be with you every step of the way. Here is everything you need to know about child support in Renton.

What Is Child Support, And Why Do Parents Have To Pay?

Child support is a series of payments parents provide to each other to cover expenses related to raising their children. It covers various costs associated with the child's upbringing and well-being, including but not limited to food, housing, clothing, education, medical care, and extracurricular activities. Despite the parents no longer being together, it is important to ensure that the child's living conditions and opportunities are maintained as much as possible. This is why child support exists.

In Renton, the courts determine child support obligations and can be part of a divorce, separation, or parenting plan for parents who were never married. Several factors, including the income of both parents, the number of children, the custody arrangement, and the specific needs of the child, are considered when calculating child support payments.

Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 13.34.160, child support payments in Washington continue until the child's 18th birthday. However, obligations can extend beyond this age under certain circumstances. For example, parents may need to continue paying child support if the child has special needs or is attending college.

In Washington, child support is a legal obligation under RCW 26.09.160. Failure to make the required child support payments results in serious legal consequences, including wage garnishment, fines, and even imprisonment.

Who Is Responsible For Paying Child Support In Washington?

The responsibility for paying child support in Washington typically falls to the "non-custodial parent," the parent who spends less time living with the child. This is because the court aims to ensure that both parents contribute financially to their child's upbringing, mirroring the support the child would have received if the parents lived together.

However, it's important to note that Washington's approach to child support is based on the combined income of both parents, reflecting the belief that both have a financial obligation to their children. Even in cases where parents share custody more equally, there still may be a child support obligation calculated to ensure the child's needs are met proportionally to each parent's income.

How Is Child Support Calculated In The State Of Washington?

To calculate child support, the state of Washington uses a set of economic tables that provide a basis for estimating the amount of support required, considering both parents' combined monthly net income and the number of children.

Here's a step-by-step overview of how King County courts calculate child support:

  1. First, standards outlined in RCW 26.19.071 determine each parent's monthly net income, which includes wages, salaries, commissions, and other forms of income after deductions for taxes, social security, and other mandatory expenses. Voluntary deductions are not typically subtracted from gross income for this calculation.
  2. The monthly net incomes of both parents are then combined to establish the total monthly income available for child support.
  3. Washington State uses an economic table to outline the primary support obligation based on the parents' combined monthly net income along with the number of children they have. It estimates how much money would have been spent on the children if the family were still together.
  4. To ensure fair contribution, the total child support obligation is divided proportionally between the parents based on their share of the combined monthly net income. Each parent's percentage of the combined income is used to calculate their share of the total child support obligation.
  5. The primary support obligation may be adjusted to account for the child's health care and education expenses, as well as any special needs that they may have. These costs are then added to the primary support obligation.
  6. Child support calculations are also impacted by the time the child spends with each parent. If one parent has the child for a significant amount of time, this may reduce their child support obligation, reflecting the direct expenses they incur while caring for the child.

After considering all these factors, the court will determine the final child support amount one parent must pay the other. It's important to note that the court can deviate from these legal guidelines under certain circumstances to meet the child’s best interests. The specific details of how these factors apply to child support payments can vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case.

If you'd like to learn what your child support payments will be, speak to your attorney or get an estimate using the Washington State child support calculator.

Can Child Support Orders Be Modified In Washington?

Washington state law, specifically RCW 26.09.170, allows child support order modifications, acknowledging that life situations and a child's financial needs or a parent's ability to pay support can change over time.

Your child support order may be eligible for modification under the following circumstances:

  • If either parent's income has significantly increased or decreased, it may warrant modifying the child support amount.
  • An increase in your child's needs, including medical expenses, education costs, or childcare, can also justify a modification.
  • A modification is possible if there is a change in the residential schedule that affects how much time the child spends with each parent.
  • Washington law also allows for a review of child support orders every two years without requiring a significant change in circumstances.

To modify a child support order in King County, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Start by filing a petition for child support modification with the court that issued the original order.
  2. Then, provide evidence of the changed circumstances that justify the modification.
  3. Next, the court will review the petition, the evidence, and any objections from the other parent. It may request a hearing to resolve any disputes.
  4. Finally, if the court finds there is a significant change in circumstances that warrants a child support order modification, it will issue a new order reflecting the updated amount.

It's important to note that until a new order is issued, the existing child support order remains in effect, and all payments must be made as required by the original order. Even if you seek a modification, failure to make child support payments leads to legal consequences.

Our Attorneys Answer Your Child Support FAQs

Washington's child support laws are very complex, so it is natural to still have questions. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked ones about child support in King County:

Q: What Happens If My Ex-Spouse Doesn't Pay Child Support?

A: If your ex-spouse fails to pay child support, the Washington State Division of Child Support can enforce the order by garnishing wages, intercepting tax refunds, suspending driver's and professional licenses, and even filing legal actions that could lead to jail time for non-compliance.

Q: Can Child Support Cover Expenses Like Extracurricular Activities Or Medical Bills?

A: Yes, child support covers a wide range of expenses related to the child's welfare, from basic needs and medical care to extracurricular activities. The child support order must outline the specifics.

Q: Is It Possible To Handle A Child Support Case Without Going To Court?

A: While many child support cases involve court, it's possible to reach an agreement outside of court through mediation or direct negotiation between parents. However, it's essential to have any agreement legally documented in the parenting plan and approved by the court to ensure it is enforceable.

Q: What Should I Do If I Need To Collect Child Support From A Parent Living Out Of State?

A: Washington State works with other states to enforce child support orders across state lines. For instance, if the other parent lives out of state, you can still take legal action to ensure you receive child support payments, thanks to federal laws designed to enforce child support orders nationally.

Q: How Long Does A Parent Need To Pay Child Support In Washington State?

A: In Washington State, parents are required to make child support payments until the child's 18th birthday or until they finish high school, whichever is later. Support may extend beyond this age if the child has special needs or is in college.

Q: What Are My Rights If I Am Falsely Accused Of Not Paying Child Support?

A: If you are falsely accused of not paying child support, you have the right to contest the claim. To ensure you have evidence to support your stand, keep detailed records of all payments made with bank statements and receipts.

Client Reviews
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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