Anyone who writes a monthly check to cover a recurring payment expects to know where their money is going and if it is being used as intended. But what about child support payments?
Child support is a tool to ensure the child(ren) are entitled to a similar financial security and lifestyle as they had previous to a divorce. These numbers are drawn up by splitting the income in half as if in one household, from there the support is calculated equitably.
Maintaining “a similar lifestyle” after divorce can be difficult. When a household is divided by the dissolution of a marriage, the separate households must continue to provide for the child(ren). While the collective income of both households is a key factor in calculating support, the expenses of both homes are not taken into account. The result is two households trying to function on the same income as the single household that existed during the marriage.
Is showing accountability of the payments a requirement in the child support settlement?
It is important to mention that the money paid for child support can be spent as the custodial parent sees fit. This means, in most cases, the custodial parent is not required to provide an accounting of how they spend the support money from the noncustodial parent.
Only rarely, on specific occasions, will the child support recipient be required to provide detailed reports on how support payments were allocated to cover specific expenses. These exceptions are made (very seldom) for: child care expenses, unreimbursed medical costs, extracurricular activities, and for children with special needs.
It is imperative that all support payments are documented and made through the appropriate channels. Too often men try to be accommodating and make arrangements that are not outlined in the support order. Without proper documentation and acknowledgement by the court, these “side deals” can quickly turn out to be a sticky situation where dad is required to pay back support due to there being no record of the payments he had been making on time.
If you find yourself in this type of dilemma or are in the midst of a separation or custody case it important to understand all your rights as they pertain to your unique situation. Knowing your rights will help ensure you are paying, or receiving, the appropriate amount—and your child(ren)’s well-being is paramount.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years— the holidays are expected to be filled with the utmost merriment. However, when dealing with a divorce or separation, some families are unable to share in the festivities. Traditions and gatherings become so common within families that when change occurs, it is difficult for not only the parents, but the children as well to adapt.
Even with the challenges that divorce and change can bring, there are ways to get through the holiday blues.
- Do not feel discouraged, your child needs you to keep the positive light in the house while still being real about the situation. There is no need to pretend that everything is just fine, it is okay to be honest about it all, but reassure them that it will all be okay in the end and to still smile because there is still love filling the home.
- Plan accordingly with the other parent if they want a day for Christmas. If there are children involved you want to be sure they see both sides. Children begin to feel forgotten or to blame if they do not see the other parents. Try to get all other holiday shopping, family visits and legal meetings all on a schedule that works best for you and the child. It is not easy to juggle all the holiday madness. Plan ahead, but also leave some meditation and relaxation for yourself. It is easy to get caught up in the madness so always set aside some time for yourself.
- Continue to be social even if it is with family. Family and friends are there for the support you need, you cannot do this alone. Get out and enjoy some part of the holidays. Spending time with friends can clear your head and provide a good distraction. If questions arise in these group meetings and you do not want to discuss them then just simply state to them that that is not a topic you wish to discuss at that time.
- Let your traditions evolve. There is no reason to abandon your favorite parts of the holidays because your circumstances have changed. Finding new a creative ways to carry on holiday traditions can build new meanings and memories.
- Stay active. Physical activity has been shown to boost energy levels and moods. It can also be a great tool for managing stress, and during the holidays it can counteract the extra calories from eggnog, cookies, and the inevitable big meals.
- Giving back to others can remind your children that this is still the time of giving thanks by also giving back to your community. Whether it is just donating towards a food drive, or lending a helping hand at the homeless shelter. Contributing and bringing meaning of the holidays to others can help heal some of the raw emotions that come with divorce.
- Showing respect towards your ex during this time will help things operate more smoothly for you and the children. Anger, frustration, and denial are all feelings that are common during this time, but it is wise to keep a positive relationship for the children.
- In the end, be honest that things are not the same as they were, but that does not mean things cannot get better. There is so much to live for and so many more days in our lives that we cannot let these days bring us down and shape our whole being. Keeping the positivity and hope that they are still family and there is still love will help the children cope with what is to come and possibly be more accepting.
There are new tales to be told and new ventures to seek so do not get caught up in the holiday blues. They will pass with time, but stay together and be there for one another. Do not let anger or frustrations come out and bring negativity to the household, merriment should still fill the air because there is still each other to be thankful for.
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
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
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.