After parents divorce, both must continue to provide financial support to minor children. Washington state guidelines provide information about how the court calculates child support when parents cannot agree on a fair arrangement independently.
Review the factors that influence child support in Washington state.
Basic support obligation schedule
When calculating child support for families who live in Washington, the court uses the basic support obligation schedule. To use this table, they add the income of both parents and compare it to the number of children to come up with an average monthly support amount. The judge allocates this amount between the parents depending on their custody agreement and other factors.
Adjustments to the schedule
Washington family court judges have the discretion to adjust the child support amount indicated by the basic support obligation schedule. For example, if the average child support payment would put the parent under the state poverty threshold, the judge can lower the monthly payment amount. The court can also deviate from the schedule when the parent who will pay support also supports children from other relationships, earns significantly more money than the other parent, has a great deal of parenting time or displays other special circumstances.
The court can also order additional support when the child has special medical or educational needs. Generally, a parent will pay no more than 45% of his or her income toward total child support except in cases with extenuating factors.
Most child support orders last until the child reaches age 18. However, the court can order support to continue while the child attends college, university or post-secondary job training.