Deviating From Washington’s Child Support Guidelines

Posted On January 30, 2024 Child Support

Public policy in Washington is that children should benefit from both parents’ financial support even if their parents are no longer together romantically. In many cases, child support is paid by one parent to the other. There are general rules for how much support is ordered, but there are some instances when the court can deviate from these guidelines. An experienced child support attorney can review your particular case and explain whether it might be possible to deviate from Washington’s child support guidelines.

How Is Child Support Determined In Washington?

The court generally adheres to the Washington child support schedule when it determines an appropriate amount of child support to award in a case. Courts use a formula to determine the base amount of child support. They plug in various pieces of information to determine how much support to award. It makes this process easier by providing a calculator for this purpose. The amount of child support is anywhere between $200 and $3,500 per month in most cases.   Child support is supposed to provide for the basic, recurring expenses associated with raising a child, including payment for housing, food, and clothing. The formula applies throughout the state, so there are no differences from one city to another.

Factors Considered In Washington Child Support Guidelines

The primary factors that are considered when determining child support awards are:  

  • The number of children and their ages
  • Each parents income
  • Childcare expenses necessary for the parents to work
  • Education expenses
  • Special child-rearing expenses
  • Long-distance transportation expenses
  • Spousal support paid or received
  • Cost of medical insurance
  • Uninsured medical expenses for the child
  • The child’s living arrangements
  • Any Social Security benefits the child receives

  One of the most important factors in determining child support is the income of each parent.   Information that goes into the calculation related to income includes:  

  • Wages and salaries
  • Interest and dividend income
  • Business income
  • Maintenance received
  • Other income

  In some situations, one parent is underemployed or unemployed. In these situations, the court may determine the amount of income the parent should be receiving and impute that income to them.   After all relevant information is included in the Washington child support worksheets, a standard transfer payment is calculated. This represents the payment the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent each month.

When Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines Is Possible

The child support guidelines provide a rebuttable presumption that the amount calculated is appropriate. However, there are situations when the court may deviate from this amount.   The court may deviate from the child support guidelines for the following reasons:  

  • Additional expenses – Sometimes, the child support worksheets do not take into consideration costs that are unique to the child, such as if the child has special needs or high medical expenses.
  • Substantial visitation – The court may order less child support if the non-custodial parent has substantial visitation with the child, which is generally more than 90 overnight visits in a year. This deviation is often based on the incomes of the parents and only ordered when the custodial parent has sufficient income to support their household if they receive less child support.
  • Little visitation – More child support might be ordered if the noncustodial parent has little or no visitation time with the child.
  • Other children – The amount of child support can also be affected if the non-custodial parent has more children in a different relationship.

  Courts will assume the standard transfer payment is an appropriate amount of support. Therefore, the parent wanting to deviate from the child support guidelines will need to provide a compelling argument and substantial evidence to do so. An experienced child support lawyer can help.

Child Support Modifications

In some cases, circumstances may change that justify modifying the amount of child support to be paid. To obtain a child support modification, the parent wanting to make the change must petition the court and prove that there has been a qualifying change in circumstances.   Possible reasons for modification of child support in Washington include:  

  • Getting fired or demoted
  • Being promoted or a new job
  • Retirement or disability of one of the parents
  • Disability of the child
  • Becoming financially responsible for children from other relationships
  • The child being accepted into college

  If you believe you may have grounds for a modification, contact a skilled child support lawyer for help.

A Family Law Attorney Can Help You Navigate Deviations from the Child Support Guidelines

A family law attorney can guide you through the process of child support calculations, deviations, or modifications. Understanding when it might be appropriate to deviate from Washington’s child support guidelines can help you be further prepared to act in your child’s best interest.


Contact the Washington Family & Divorce Lawyers at Twyford Law Office To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family lawyers or reach out to Twyford Law Office online by visiting our contact us page. You can also visit our office at your nearest location.


Twyford Law Office Spokane Office

430 W Indiana Ave, Spokane, WA 99205.
(509) 327 0777 


Twyford Law Office Seattle Office

814 Second Avenue, Suite 515, Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 590-7085 


Twyford Law Office Bellevue Office 

1408 140th Pl NE Suite 400, Bellevue, WA 98007
(425) 517-3350


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