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    Divorce in Washington Uncontested Divorce Navigating the process of Divorce in Washington is not easy, and the US has the third highest divorce rate in the world. Due to the complex nature of divorces, the procedure is long, costly, and emotionally taxing. These circumstances frequently lead to lingering resentment between parties, which can make it…

What does child support cover in Washington State?

Child support is a monthly sum of money paid to your former partner (or child’s school, in some cases) to cover living and qualifying education expenses for your shared biological child in Washington State. This money may be used toward clothing, meals, childcare, and specific household expenses (where the child resides).

How do you apply for child support in Washington State? 

If you are in the middle of a divorce and have children, you may turn to the judge to approve a child support order. You will need a parenting plan before a child support order can be established. This ensures that there is a set custody agreement so that the judge can recommend a child support amount that makes sense based on the child’s living arrangements. 

Parents with primary custody will not need to pay child support since they take care of the child the majority of the time. In contrast, a parent with visitation rights may need to provide child support to ensure their child has everything they need for health, housing, school, and beyond. 

Another way to apply for child support is through the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Child Support (DCS). Whichever option you take, it is worth it to consult a family lawyer. At the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer, we have seen just about every type of child support case out there, and we are happy to walk you through the process. 

When can you expect to receive child support?

It may be anywhere from one month to several months after applying for child support. Having a child support order can speed up the process. Considering every case is different, it is difficult to determine an exact timeframe on when you can expect your child support payment. An experienced family lawyer, such as ourselves, would be happy to review your case and give you an estimate of how long it could take, all factors considered. 

Often, child support is “withheld” from your wages. If your work does not follow through, DCS may send a Notice of Noncompliance. That can prolong the amount of time it takes to receive child support by over a month, on top of the time you already waited. 

How much do most people pay in child support?

The total amount varies from parent to parent. Washington looks at the Washington State Child Support Schedule to determine what is feasible for a parent to pay based on their income.

The lowest amount you can be expected to pay for one child is $50 each month unless the court decides otherwise. On the high end, it can exceed $1,000. It all depends on your monthly income. 

The Washington State Child Support Schedule consolidates you and your former partner’s income to assess the total child support owed. (If you are curious about how this would go in your case, please reach out to our law office. First consults are free.)

At what age do you stop paying child support?

In general, you no longer have to pay child support after a child turns 18. That is because they are an adult by the legal definition. However, do not assume you will not have to pay for child support at this time. Always check your child support order to see when the actual cut-off date is or whether it must be modified. 

Child support orders can go past age 18 if the child is still in high school. Depending on the month they were born, it is not uncommon for a child to be 18 during their senior year. That can extend how long you must pay child support.

You may also pay child support longer if your child is in college or vocational school. The court considers how old the child is, the child’s skill set, and the type of schooling they are looking to pursue. (RCW 26.19.090)

Just remember that while your child might receive support while pursuing a college degree, it is not a “free pass.” The degree must align with the career they are seeking. They also must maintain good grades. The court will halt the child support order immediately if your child switches degree plans to something outside of their target career path or if they fall behind in school.

Other factors may cause you to have to pay child support past your child’s 18th birthday. However, it is unlikely. Most parents’ child support obligations stop after the child is legally an adult.

How do you terminate child support in Washington State?

No matter how civil your relationship is with your former spouse, never assume that an oral agreement is enough to end your child support obligations. You will need to file a Petition to Modify the Child Support Order (or submit a motion to terminate the child support order).

This is the same form you use to amend your child support order (e.g., request to lower the amount owed due to income changes, etc.). The form includes various questions so that you may include a reason for the child support termination. 

While the petition is the first step to ending your child support obligations, it is not the only one. It is essential to speak with a family law attorney to ensure you complete the correct forms, include the necessary details, and do not miss any steps. Our lawyers are here to lend a helping hand when you need one. 

Want to open a child support case? 

The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has assisted with child support order cases big and small. We know the Washington State child support laws like the back of our hand. If you have any questions about child support in our area (from Vancouver to Battleground), we are your go-to resource. Give our legal office a call at your earliest convenience to schedule your first consultation. We look forward to working on your case.