Child support is considered the right of the child, not the parent. It is the monthly sum the court orders paid by one parent to another for support of their children. Even if both parents spend equal time with the children, the parent with the higher income is usually expected to pay child support. Washington law determines child support via a formula set forth in the "state support schedule." This schedule considers how much income both parents receive, their tax filing status and deductions, health insurance costs, and the ages and number of children. If the court believes a Based on the net income of the parents, the schedule determines the standard basic support obligation to be paid each month. The court can order a different amount if certain exceptions apply.
The court also requires parents to pay some additional expenses, including child care expenses if a parent is working, unreimbursed medical expenses, and reasonable educational expenses. The court can also require parents to pay a child's post-secondary (college) expenses.
Child support can change. Washington state statute allows payments to be adjusted or modified upward and downward under certain circumstances. Until you obtain a court order changing the current order of child support, you must continue to pay what you currently owe.
Courts can award spousal support (or alimony) in some situations whether or not there are minor children involved. Spousal support is a monthly payment from the higher earning spouse to the spouse with lower income during or after a dissolution or legal separation. Courts have a great deal of discretion in whether or not to order spousal support in a case. Unlike child support, there is no precise formula to determine the appropriate amount. The court considers several factors in addition to the parties' income. These include the length of the marriage, health, ages, employment history and financial needs of the parties. If you were ordered to pay spousal support, this can be changed in certain situations.
WHAT I CAN DO.
Courts take child support obligations seriously. Both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children. I work with clients to carefully analyze and determine the accuracy and sources of income, including determination of income for self-employed individuals. If the current order of support needs changing, it is important to move quickly before you incur arrearages. If you need assistance, I can help.
Spousal support requires a more nuanced analysis of your case, and can be impacted by the property and debt awarded in a dissolution. Spousal support payments can significantly affect your income tax and future financial planning. I assist clients in this multi-factor analysis. I also assist clients in determining their ability to become self supporting, the time and training required to do so, and presenting this in the most advantageous way.