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What are the child support guidelines in Washington?

For divorcing Washington State spouses, child support can initially seem as simple as providing money for the everyday expenses of a child. However, there are a lot of nuances to child support that parents may not realize. For one, there is a specific guideline used by the state in order to determine the amount of child support that will be paid. Also, parents can be required by the court to pay for particular expenses.

In Washington, parents are obligated to pay child support until their child turns 18 or 19 years old, depending on when the child graduates high school. As prescribed in Title 26 of the Washington State Code, the state uses what is called an "Income Share Model." This means that the amount to be paid will be adjusted based on the combined gross income of the child's parents. Washington defines "income" as the parents' salaries, commissions, wages, overtime pay, compensation, severance pay and salary from a secondary job.

The court will follow a child support formula as well. However, the court can consider several factors before it decides to deviate from this formula. These factors include the extraordinary income of a parent or child, a custodial agreement, if a parents has other children from a previous relationship and if the child is disabled and has special needs. The income of a new domestic partner or spouse can also be considered, although this factor, on its own, cannot be considered as a basis to not follow the required formula for child support.

Finally, Washington State divorcing parents should know that a court can require them to pay for obligations not related to income as part of their child support order if the court deems it necessary. Some examples of non-income based obligations include providing health insurance coverage for a child, contributing to child care and health care costs and providing cash as medical support. A family law professional can provide further information about child support.

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