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Child support and its limits in Washington State

When Washington State parents are parting ways, and the determination as to how much child support will be paid from the supporting parent to the custodial parent, there are many factors that will be considered. Of course, the best interests of the child and the everyday expenses that will arise will be paramount. Many parents, however, are not aware that there are state-implemented standards for the upper and lower limits on what will be paid. This depends on the income of the parents.

In Washington, there is a limit of 45 percent of the parent's net income to be paid in child support. When the parent is paying support or the custodial parent is contributing, the amount they provide cannot go beyond that level, unless cause is shown for it to surpass it. Every child will be entitled to a proportional amount of the income that is available. This is also known as the "pro rata" share.

Prior to making the determination as to whether this level should be the baseline, the court will have to decide whether it is just to apply that limitation and the best interests of the child will be adhered to if so. The basic needs have to be met, assets, liabilities and comparative hardship are all factors. When good cause is considered, such issues as wealth, daycare costs, medical expenses, educational costs and the needs of larger families, will be taken into account.

The presumptive minimum support obligation is applicable if the monthly net income of a parent is less than 125 percent of the poverty guideline from the federal government. The order of support will not be less than $50 per child every month, except if the supporting parent establishes that this would be unjust. Like the above passage, the best interests of the child and other factors will be taken into consideration. For those whose income surpasses $12,000, the court has the right to go beyond the presumptive amount that is set for support.

When a parent is set to pay or receive child support, the support agreement is contingent on various factors, including the income of both sides. When there is confusion or concern over the amount that will be paid, speaking to an attorney who is experienced in determining child custody and adhering to children's needs is imperative and that is the first call that should be made.

Source: Leg.Wa.gov, "RCW 26.19.065 -- Standards for establishing lower and upper limits on child support amounts," accessed on July 19, 2016

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