Jill Mullins-Cannon has experience in child support matters. Having served as a Benton County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the child support division and later in private practice, Jill has handled hundreds of child support cases.
Child support in Washington is based on specific guidelines. Sometimes child support can be fairly simple to establish, both parents work full-time and make a steady income, with little change from year-to-year. For these situations, looking at the child support calculator will give you a good idea of what the child support obligation for parents in Washington.
Sometimes child support can be far more complicated. Factors like type of employment (commissions, seasonal, etc.), or specific needs of the child(ren) can complicate the child support worksheet. Whether the case is complicated or relatively simple, sometimes an experienced attorney will help make sure that it is completed to make sure that all parents are providing adequate support for their children.
JELS will represent people in child support establishment, adjustments and modifications. At JELS, while we will advocate for our clients, we will do so within the spirit of the law that parents should be providing child support in an equitably apportioned manner (typically in proportion to net income) and that his child support should not only meet the basic needs, but that it should also provide child support commensurate with the parents’ income, resources, and standard of living.
In Washington State, our legislature has defined the purpose of child support as follows (See: RCW 26.19.001):
The legislature intends, in establishing a child support schedule, to insure that child support orders are adequate to meet a child’s basic needs and to provide additional child support commensurate with the parents’ income, resources, and standard of living. The legislature also intends that the child support obligation should be equitably apportioned between the parents.
Equitably apportioned between the parents means that each parent provides for the child(ren) in proportion to their income unless there is a reason to deviate from the statutorily defined amount. The legislature is supposed to revisit the calculations for the cost of raising children on a regular basis. The last time the economic table was updated was in 2009.
Based on the economic table the following can be understood about Child Support in Washington:
- The more children you have, the lower the cost per child is calculated. So if you have one child and the net income of the parents is $5000, the cost for one child is between $738/month per child and $912/month (per child roughly 15% to 18% of the total net income). If you have five children, it is assumed that the overall cost is between $353/month per child to $437/month per child, multiplied by five children this is $1,765 per month to $2,185 per month (35% to 44% of the total net income).
- Older children are more expensive. The child support worksheet divides children in two categories: 0-11 and 12-18. The 12-18 age group is considered to be more expensive to meet the basic needs and provide child support commensurate with parents income and resources.
- The more money you make, the lower percentage of your overall income has to go to supporting your children. For example, at the low end of the monthly net income, $1000/per month, the child support table would have you paying between 22% (one child under 11), to 65% (five children over 12) compared to the end of the spectrum where income is $12,000/month and child support is between 12% and 38% of the total income. The income table also caps out at $12,000, so when parents net income is greater than $12,000 they conceivable pay less than this percentage per month as a court must enter written findings of fact to go higher than this presumptive amount.