Understanding Child Support: Calculating, Enforcing, and Modifying

Child support is not only an issue for divorce cases. Child support cases can arise from many other family law cases, including paternity, custody, non-parental custody, parenting plan modifications, and relocation cases. The purpose of an everett divorce attorney involving support is to ensure that there are appropriate child support arrangements made in all family law cases that involve children.

Child support cases can be complex, requiring the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney. There are issues that go far beyond the basic calculation of support using child support worksheets. Chiropractor Sydney

Anderson Hunter Family Law has successfully represented hundreds of clients with varying child support situations. We are experienced in not only establishing child support during the process of divorce, but also modifications to existing child support and enforcing child support obligations.

Calculating Child Support:

As a general rule, child support payments are calculated based upon a statutory formula. This formula involves determining the net income of both parents, including (although not necessarily limited to) wages, and any other additional sources of income.

Cases in which both parents earn a reasonable income are fairly simple to navigate. Cases in which one or both parents are unemployed, underemployed, a business owner, on disability or Social Security, or receives irregular income can cause these cases to become extremely complex. These types of cases should prompt both parties to enlist the aid of a skilled family law attorney, as they will require additional documentation to be able to accurately assess the incomes (or potential incomes) of both parties and then establish an appropriate support obligation.

The calculation of child support is also a part of the the divorce process where children are involved. Our attorneys can help the parents understand how child support is calculated, how other support (such as maintenance) factors in, credits parents may receive for paying direct costs for their children (such as childcare and health insurance premiums), and when and how support can be changed in the future. Additionally, there are situations where support may be negotiated to better fit the needs of the parents. Our experience with these types of difficult cases has helped us to achieve successful outcomes for our clients.

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What about ‘extraordinary expenses’?

In addition to basic child support obligations, parents may also have to share additional expenses for their children. These are commonly referred to as ‘extraordinary’ expenses, and are typically not included in the basic child support amount. Examples of these can include:Bad credit refinance auto loan

  • Education (including college)

  • Sports and other extracurricular activities

  • Work-related childcare costs

  • Long-distance travel (for residential time with the other parent)

There are other types of expenses that can be considered ‘extraordinary’ expenses as well. It is important that your attorney help you to identify any current or future such expenses while negotiating your order of child support.

Like the method of establishing the child support payment, the payment of extraordinary expenses is also based on the parents’ respective net incomes. Once this is determined, each parents’ proportional share of the combined net income is determined, and the resultant percentage is used to allocate responsibility for the extraordinary expenses.

Example of Determining Obligation for Extraordinary Expenses:

Peter’s net income is $10,000 a month, and Susan’s net income is $5,500 a month. The combined net income of both parties is $15,500. Peter’s share of the combined net income is 65% and Susan’s share is 35%. Therefore, Peter would be responsible for 65% of extraordinary expenses, while Susan will be responsible for 35%.

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Enforcing Child Support:

When the parent charged with paying child support fails to make these payments, an enforcement action, usually in the form of a “contempt” motion, can be filed by the other party. Enforcement action can also be taken by the State (through the Department of Child Support) to collect against a parent who is not paying the court ordered support obligation.

If a contempt motion is brought and a parent is found to have “willfully” violated the support order by failing to make support payments, that parent can be held in contempt, and the other party is often awarded their attorney’s fees for having to bring the action to court to enforce the order.

An Order of Child Support is a court order, and unless and until that order is changed (see Modification, below), it is valid and enforceable.

Interstate and International Support Enforcement

A recent act called the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) has been adopted by each state in the United States. This act provides courts the latitude to enforce child support judgements that have been made in other states or, at times, even other countries.  Additionally, this act allows the court to impose a new judgement for any outstanding unpaid child support.

Our family law attorneys are familiar with all aspects of child support orders and enforcements, whether you need assistance establishing a child support order, enforcing one, or have been served a child support action.

Child Support Modifications:

The emotional nature of child support cases will often make petitioning for child support modification a difficult issue for both parties. The reality is, however, that major financial or life situations can arise after an initial support order is in place. Parents may receive pay cuts/raises, change careers, remarry, or even encounter serious or expensive health problems.  In such situations, however difficult it may seem, a child support modification while be necessary to ensure adequate and proper support for the child(ren).

Washington State laws allow for parents to petition for child support modifications in order to accommodate changes in circumstances. Many factors can provide the basis for the petition to modify a child support obligation, such as:

  • The age of the child(ren)

  • Changes in residential schedule

  • The child attending college

  • Significant changes in income to one or both parties

Child support orders that have been in effect for less than one year cannot be modified unless the petitioner is able to provide evidence of substantial change in circumstances.

Any child support order may be adjusted if 24 months have passed from the entry date of the child support order or the last modification (whichever is later). In this case, the order may be adjusted without the need to show substantial change in the circumstances of one or both parties based upon:

  • Changes in the income of the parents; or

  • Changes in the economic table or standards listed in RCW 26.19.

At Divorce Attorney Everett WA, it is always our goal to help you find a successful resolution of child support issues. In some cases that may mean the energy and intensity to strongly advocate on your behalf, in others it may mean a practical and cost effective compromise that reasonably addresses both parties’ concerns.

We are adept at handling all types of child support cases, and look forward to meeting with you so that, together, we can work toward a satisfactory outcome.

  • April 27, 2015
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