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Washington courts may impute income in child support cases

Even when a child's parents are no longer in a relationship with one another, they still must contribute financially to raising the child. This is why, in general, the noncustodial parent will be ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. Some noncustodial parents may not like this obligation, and some may even try to shirk this duty by purposely being unemployed or underemployed. However, doing so will not get them out of their child support obligation.

Per Washington statutes, if a parent who owes child support purposely remains unemployed or underemployed, the court has the right to impute an income to that parent. When determining whether a parent is purposely remaining unemployed or underemployed, the court will consider the parent's age, health, level of education and the parent's previous work history.

Income will not be imputed to parents who have gainful, full-time employment, unless the court determines that the parent who owes child support is purposely remaining underemployed in order to have lower child support payments. Also, the imputation of income will not take place if it is found that the parent owing child support is completely unemployable. In addition, a parent's income will not be imputed to the extent that the parent is either underemployed or unemployed due to that parent's efforts to obey a reunification effort ordered by the court.

As this shows, courts will not let parents try to avoid paying child support by saying they do not have a job that allows them to earn the money needed to pay child support. If a custodial parent believes the noncustodial parent is purposely remaining underemployed or unemployed in order to avoid paying child support, the custodial parent may want to seek the advice of an attorney who can explain what legal action can be taken in such situations.

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