Your Washington
Family Law Attorneys
click for a free consultation

What Does Child Support Cover?

What Does Child Support Cover?Parents are legally obligated to provide the basics for their children, including food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. This obligation does not change when the parents separate or divorce.

Child support is intended to meet a parent’s obligation to financially support their children. It helps meet a child’s basic needs.

Family courts seek to ensure the custodial parent has sufficient funds to meet these needs.

What Are Child Support Payments Used for?

Child support payments help pay for a place for the child to live, clothing, food, and other necessary expenses. The custodial parent is not supposed to use those funds for other purposes.

As a result, a parent might object to the other parent using their child support payments to pay for their car payments. However, the custodial parent could argue that they use the car to transport the child to school, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities.

Car payments are necessary to provide for the child’s basic needs. Absent evidence proving that the custodial parent is misusing child support payments while failing to provide for the child’s basic needs, the court is unlikely to penalize a parent for how they use the child support payments.

If you believe your child’s other parent is using child support payments for their benefit instead of your child’s needs, contact a Seattle child support attorney. A lawyer can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your allegations to offer advice regarding your legal options. The attorney can also explain how Washington child support laws apply to your situation.

How Do Courts in Washington Calculate Child Support Payments?

Understanding how child support is calculated can give you a better understanding of what child support covers in Washington State.

Child support payments in Washington are based primarily on each parent’s net income. The Washington State Child Support Guidelines explain how the state uses standard calculations to determine child support. The guidelines are intended to ensure each parent pays a fair amount to support their child and that support payments are calculated uniformly across the state.

Even though there are standard child support guidelines, other factors are used to calculate child support payments. Additional factors courts consider when determining the amount of child support include:

  • The ages and number of children to be supported
  • Whether either parent receives spousal support
  • A parent’s current spouse’s or partner’s income
  • Mandatory deductions from wages, including retirement savings, union fees, income taxes, Medicare, and Social Security
  • Other children a parent or spouse may be supporting
  • A child’s special needs
  • Whether there is a split custody arrangement (one child lives with one parent and the other child lives with the other parent)
  • A couple’s or parent’s unusually high wealth
  • The total number of children cared for by you or your partner

Judges have the discretion to consider other factors when deciding child support cases. They can deviate from the standard guidelines based on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, a judge may consider the standard of living and the child’s lifestyle before the divorce, including whether the child attended private school.

Child support payments continue until the court terminates or modifies them. Generally, child support ends when a child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever is later.

 If a child is emancipated before they turn 18 years old, child support payments should stop. Talk with your attorney if you are unsure whether your child support obligation has ended.

Can I Modify My Child Support Payments in Washington State?

The courts recognize that certain events and circumstances can require modifications to child support obligations. Either parent can petition the court requesting a modification of child support. 

However, the petitioning parent has the burden of proving that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that justifies modifying child support payments.

Typically, the change in circumstances must have been unforeseeable when the court issued the current child support order. Also, the change in circumstances cannot be due to the direct actions of the parent asking for the change, such as voluntarily quitting your job to pursue a hobby.

Examples of changes in circumstances that could justify a modification of support payments include:

  • A parent develops an illness or sustains an injury that prevents them from working or substantially lowers their income
  • A parent loses their job through no fault of their own
  • One of the parents is ordered to report for active duty with the armed forces
  • A parent is convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in jail or prison
  • The child develops special needs or requires more care
  • Changes in the custody and timesharing agreement
  • A new child is born or adopted
  • A child becomes legally independent or emancipated
  • A substantial change in how much a parent earns

Parents can work together to handle extra costs, such as dividing the costs of extracurricular activities, sudden medical costs, and additional school costs. It is important to remember that child support modifications are not retroactive. Therefore, if you believe you have grounds to modify a child support order, contact a Seattle family law attorney immediately.

What Happens if I Cannot Afford To Pay My Child Support Payments in Seattle, WA?

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) enforces child support obligations. Depending on the court’s order, your child support payments may be paid directly to your child’s other parent. However, you may be required to make payments to DSHS or your payments may be garnished from your wages by DSHS.

If you become behind on your child support payments, the state can take several actions to collect child support arrears and enforce a child support order. Examples of the penalties you could face for failing to pay child support include:

  • Seizure of your tax refunds
  • Failing to qualify for some government benefits
  • Revoked or suspended driver’s license
  • Jail time
  • Cancellation of professional licenses
  • Deductions from workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits

If you are receiving child support payments and your child’s other parent falls behind, you cannot withhold visitation to punish your ex-partner. If you refuse visitation, you could face contempt charges for failing to obey a child custody order. Instead, talk with a lawyer about filing a petition with the court to enforce child support payments.

Do You Need Help With Child Support Matters in Seattle, WA?

Child support issues can be complicated and frustrating. If you have questions about child support payments, contact our Seattle child support lawyers at the Twyford Law Office to schedule a free consultation. 

We are here to help you when you need trusted legal advice and guidance regarding all Washington State child custody matters.

Contact the Washington Child Support Lawyers at Twyford Law Office To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our child support 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 – Seattle Office
814 Second Avenue, Suite 515,
Seattle, WA 98104

(206) 590-7085

Twyford Law Office – Spokane Office
430 W Indiana Ave,
Spokane, WA 99205

(509) 327 0777

Twyford Law Office – Bellevue Office
1408 140th Pl NE Suite 400,
Bellevue, WA 98007

(425) 517-3350

10.0 superb avvo rating logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
national association of distinguished counsel logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
spokane attorneys for equality logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
federal bar association logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
washington association of criminal defense lawyers logo in red - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
spokane county bar association logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
washington state bar association logo - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
Mark Cassel - Rising Stars Barge - Superlawyers - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
Three Best Rated - Spokane - Twyford Law Office Family And Divorce Lawyers in Washington
Call Now Button