Child support will need to be determined in any case involving children.
Child support can be determined through an administrative process set forth by the Department of Social and Health Services under certain circumstances.
Child support can also be determined by the court. The legislature has directed the court to insure that the child support orders are adequate to meet the basic needs of the children. Child support is generally determined by considering the combined monthly net income of both parents and determining the basic support obligation for the number of children in the family based on the child support economic table. The basic support obligation is then divided proportionately between the two parents to determine what each parent’s potential transfer payment would be, otherwise known as the standard calculation for support.
For a general idea of what a standard child support calculation is, you can run a quick calculation on the DSHS website. Help can also be found on their website for assistance in preparing child support worksheets.
The court has authority to order a parent to pay more or less than, or to deviate from, the standard calculation. Children from other relationships and joint custodial arrangements are just a few reasons why the court could deviate from the standard calculation. Deviations are left to the discretion of the court based on the financial circumstances in each household and are generally not granted if the deviation would result in a financial hardship in the receiving parent’s household or if the child receives public assistance.
A child support order will generally order parents to share certain expenses that are not included in the transfer payment such as uncovered medical expenses, daycare expenses, educational expenses or long distance transportation expenses. The court can also allocate how the tax exemptions for the child may be used by the parties.
Once child support has been determined, it can be reviewed as a matter of right every two years. If there has been a change in the financial circumstances of one or both parties, the court can review the child support order sooner.