Seattle Divorce Lawyers Blog

How Child Support is Calculated in Washington

child support calculation

Going through a separation, divorce, or custody dispute is stressful; trying to reach agreements of  support and custody can add to that stress.  Parenting plans and support arrangements are a complex area of law and a plethora of issues can arise when trying to reach a resolution. One facet of child custody that garners a lot of questions is: “ How is child support calculated in Washington State?’

Before tackling how support payments are calculated it is important to cover what child support is. Child support is money paid by one parent to  another parent that provides financial support to meet the needs of the child’s living expenses and to cover the cost of care.

In Washington State support payments are calculated using a specific formula. The income of both parties is factored and a calculation produces an amount that each party (parent) is responsible to contribute. Support payments are made on a monthly basis.

The Washington State Support Schedule provides the standard  basis for calculation. Through this, the court is able to take the information and the calculated income of both parties and evaluate it with the number of children as well as their ages.

A parent has a legal obligation to financially support to their children up to the age of 18 (and in some cases beyond).  The age of the child is a relevant factor in the support calculation. After age 12 support may be modified to accommodate  increased expenses during preteen and teenage years. During this time, there are often more requests by the child, but also more expenses arise as the child grows older.

Both gross income and net income are taken into account for the calculation. Gross income is the total made before tax deductions—but the support amount is ultimately based on your net income.

In cases where a parent is suffering financial hardship and cannot make the support payment, the court may provide recourse to accommodate the circumstance.  The most common reasons recognized by the courts include a loss of a job or significant change in financial circumstances stemming from factors outside the parent’s control. In these situations the court will require documentation that proves unemployment. If documentation is not provided the court will default to the assumption that you are working full-time and making an adequate net income to provide for the child/children.

The court will expect that the party take the initiative to find another job to keep up with the obligation. No matter what status a parent may fall into, the court will order that the basic support still be paid, unless the parent is viewed by the court as making a dreadfully low salary and cannot even afford the basic support; then the court will order that the parent pay minimum payment of  fifty dollars for each child.

In many situation the support obligation ends when the child turns 18 or graduates high school—which ever occurs later. In some circumstances post-secondary support can be awarded. This is financial support that continues after a child turns eighteen or has graduated high school,  and is used as a tool to share the financial burden of post-secondary education. Generally, the petition for post-secondary support must be filed prior to the child turning 18 or graduating from high school.

Jurisdiction is an important factor in custody cases. Generally speaking jurisdiction is determined by the child’s state of residence. For example: Washington’s laws apply in out-of-state separation case as long as the child still resides in Washington.

Divorce and separation are never an easy pill to swallow, but with careful consideration and effort, an amicable solution is possible. Frustration is a common byproduct, but remaining committed to acting in the best interest of the child is imperative. If you have questions regarding child support, custody or parenting plans, please give us a call. We are happy to answer questions regarding your unique situation over the phone at no charge and no obligation. (206) 448-1010


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Iggy Azalea Served Divorce Papers


According to online sources, the divorce papers were filed in a Texas court. Under Texas law a common law marriage exists if the couple has agreed to be married, live together in Texas as husband and wife, and tell other people they are married.

Several online news sites have stated:

“Wine is asking a court to bar Azalea from selling various assets accumulated during their union. They have previously been at odds over the rights to music she penned while they were together. If a judge recognizes the validity of the marriage than the “Fancy” rapper’s music becomes community property and could be split 50/50.”

Azalea’s rep has told TMZ that Azalea has “never held herself out as Hefe’s wife and never agreed to be married.”

Common law marriage is a topic that is often misunderstood, particularly in Washington State.

While Texas does recognize common law marriages, Washington State does not. That being said, Washington State does recognize “committed intimate relationships” (formerly referred to as meretricious relationships). A “committed intimate relationship” is a marriage-like relationship that must meet specific criteria that include: the length of the relationship, continuous cohabitation, the intent of the parties involved in the relationship, and the pooling of resources and service for joint projects.

A “committed intimate relationship” can create some legal challenges if the relationship ends. Under certain circumstances the courts can order a fair and equitable division of property acquired during the relationship.  If you would like specific answers regarding Washington “committed intimate relationships” please contact our office. Our managing attorney, Ken Alan, is happy to discuss your unique circumstances over the phone at no charge. (206) 448-1010


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Attorney Bart Tomerlin Joins the Goldberg Jones Team

Bart Tomerlin Attorney

Goldberg Jones would like to extend a warm welcome to Bart Tomerlin, who recently joined our team.

Bart is exceptional attorney and a decorated veteran. Bart brings more than 21 years of military experience to the firm; He has served in both the Navy and the Coast Guard. In addition to his military service Bart also brings more than 14 years of legal experience to the table— and is an invaluable resource for husbands and fathers facing family law issues in Western Washington.

Bart’s military service and excellence has been recognized with the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal.

Managing attorney, Ken Alan, commented on the addition of Bart saying, “Bart is a huge asset to men facing divorce and custody issues. His demeanor, experience, and ability to cut to the chase are only a few of the qualities that make him an outstanding attorney.”

Bart received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He received his Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and rounded out his education by earning a Master of Laws (in taxation) from the University of Washington. The combination of Bart’s education, legal experience, and military service make him a fierce advocate for defending men’s rights.


A House Divided

divorce dividing property

Dividing the marital home in a divorce is often a close second when it comes to issues of contention (the front runner is child custody).  Real estate is frequently a couple’s most significant asset and deciding how to distribute the property can be tricky, particularly if you still have a mortgage. Your lender will continue to consider you and your spouse jointly obligated until the property is either sold or refinanced.

Unlike liquid assets (assets that can quickly be converted to cash with minimal impact to value) real-estate poses some unique challenges like determining if either spouse will remain in the home after the divorce, accurately valuing the property, and reaching a reasonable distribution of any equity in the property.

There are three common methods for determining the property’s value: the tax assessed value, an appraiser, or an evaluation by a realtor.

Tax Assessed Value

This method is the least common and uses the property’s tax assessed value. The tax-assessed value is usually the same as the property’s fair market value. This is the price that a property should sell under normal market conditions. It is important to note that “normal” is subjective but generally speaking a normal market is one that is not in distress—meaning there haven’t been a large number of foreclosures or other unusual circumstances that would affect property prices within the market.

An Appraiser

A real estate appraisers estimate a property’s values by evaluating a number of factors such as location, condition, and unique characteristics. Once the property has been evaluated the appraiser will determine the approximate value by considering the results of the evaluation, other factors, and recent sales of comparable homes. The cost to hire an appraiser will vary, but the average is around $500.

Evaluation by a Realtor

While the testimony of a realtor in regards to the valuation of a property is not admissible in a divorce trial, this is a common method of valuation. A realtor that is familiar with the market can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the property and estimate the potential selling price on the open market. This can be the most cost effective method of valuing the property, as some realtors will provide this service for a nominal fee.

home-366927_640Once the value of the property has been determined the next challenge is determining how the asset will be divided. There are several options available to couples and the best choice will depend on your unique situation.  A buyout by one spouse is a common way to divide real estate.

If neither party is adamant about staying in the house, selling the property might be a good choice.  In a healthy real estate market this can be the simplest solution. The property is sold and any equity is divided.

If the property has negative equity (you owe more than the fair market value) you will have to find a solution for dividing the debt. This might include trying to refinance the property, getting a loan modification, doing a short sale, foreclosure, or filing for bankruptcy.  If your property has negative equity, it is imperative that you work with an attorney and financial planner to evaluate all your options and decide on the best course of action given your personal circumstances.

If the couple decides one person will stay in the home, then the divorce decree should state that the person remaining must refinance the property by a date determined by the court. The refinance will remove the other spouse from the mortgage and removing any financial obligation. Usually the spouse that is keeping the house will also need to compensate the vacating spouse for any equity that has accrued.

This is a rough outline of some of the factors and options that are used to distribute a property in divorce. Dividing real estate is complicated and there are numerous ways to configure how a property is split. Every situation is unique and any information found online might not be applicable to your specific circumstances. If you would like more information regarding your unique situation, please give us a call. Our managing attorney, Ken Alan, is happy to answer questions over the phone at no charge. For an in-depth evaluation of your circumstances, we offer an in-office initial consultation for $95.

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Child Support and High School Graduation

support payments past age 18 Seattle divorce attorney, Rick Jones, stopped by Life Coach to provide some Washington divorce and custody help. As always, there was no shortage of callers needing advice. Life-Coach

The first caller has two children and has been divorced for several years. At the time of the divorce, both parties agreed that the support payments would be $222 a month. After the divorce the caller’s ex wife went on the State Support system. The State then tripled the caller’s support payments to $666. The parenting plan requires support payments to continue until the children are 18 or graduate high school, which ever happens later.

The caller’s son dropped out of high school more than 18 months ago, but has recently reenrolled. The caller wanted to know how he can address the situation and have the support payments modified.

Rick advised the caller that his son’s re enrollment in school could be a bit of a shill to capitalize on the extension of child support. Rick explained that the probability of changing the amount of support now is low, but by presenting the situation to the courts, the caller can establish an “institutional memory” that will set the bar for future recourse. If the son doesn’t meet the progress requirements that he said he was going to, the caller can then revisit the modification to reduce child support payments.

Another caller wanted to know how to protect himself from his wife’s threats of divorce. His wife earns more money than the caller and has threatened divorce and to kick him out onto the street. Rick recommended he take action to plan ahead and have a strategy in place to maintain access to money, possessions, and a temporary place to live. You can hear all of Rick’s advice in the clip below. If you need answers regarding divorce, custody, or any other family law issue, please call us at (206) 448-1010.