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Support

There are several types of “support” addressed by the Court in family law actions. This section covers child support, spousal support, post-secondary (college) support, and support enforcement in general. For more information, please contact our office today and we will get you set up with one of our lawyers right away.

Child Support

Generally, the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support to the custodial parent under RCW 26.10.

Child support is mostly a matter of mathematical calculation and the Court prefers parties focus on the mathematical facts/foundation, e.g., no badmouthing. just facts regarding income and expenses.

Your child’s needs are determined by adding the net incomes of you and your spouse, and applying the total to a standard formula.

There are exceptions to using the standard formula. For example, the Court may decrease child support when the paying parent is responsible for supporting children from other relationships. Or, the Court may increase the child support when the paying parent receives additional income. The Court may order no child support if both parents are to share custody equally or provide a residential credit that is based on the number of overnights the paying parent has in one year.

In addition to monthly child support, the paying parent may be required to contribute to other child care expenses. These expenses may include uninsured health and dental costs, day care, and education expenses.

The child support order also addresses tax exemptions and health care insurance coverage.

Child Support Enforcement / Contempt

To enforce a court order wherein the other parent fails to comply with a support order, you must be able to show the following:

  1. A valid court order.
  2. The other parent must have known of the child support order.
  3. The other parent had the ability to follow the court order.
  4. The other parent failed to follow the court order.

If you demonstrate these things, the other parent may be found in contempt of court and be ordered to pay. If the other parent still refuses to pay, the Court can order jail time in order to coerce payment.

Note:  Child support may be withheld from one parent’s paycheck and sent directly to the other parent.

Note:  Even if a parent is behind on paying child support, he or she may still see or reside with the child as set forth in the parenting plan.

Post-Secondary Support

Have a child getting ready to head off to college? If you want the other parent to contribute to college expenses, typically you must do so before the child turns 18 years of age or graduates high school, whichever is later.

Postsecondary educational support is not mandatory and part of the determination is whether or not post-secondary support is appropriate. The Court considers a number of factors when making a determination to include some of the following:  Age of the child; the child’s needs; the expectations of the parties for their children when the parents were together; the child’s prospects, desires, aptitudes, abilities, or disabilities; the nature of the postsecondary education sought; and the parents’ level of education, standard of living, and current and future resources. Also to be considered are the amount and type of support that the child would have been afforded if the parents had stayed together.

Again, the Court is not mandated to order or require every case to pay for post-secondary support and there are many factors, so please contact our office to help determine if your case is appropriate to proceed with a post-secondary petition.

Spousal Maintenance

In a divorce action, state law provides that spousal support, referred to as spousal maintenance, may be granted to either spouse. The basic principle the Court follows when setting the amount and duration of spousal support is the need of one spouse versus the ability of the other spouse to pay.

There are two types of spousal support:

  1. Rehabilitative: This is for a limited period of time and is to enable one of the spouses to get the education or training necessary to find a job. This is usually awarded where one of the parties has not been working during the marriage. In this situation, the general rule is for every 4 years of marriage, 1 year of spousal maintenance will be awarded. However, this is not a hard and fast rule.
  2. Permanent: This continues for a long period of time, possibly until the death of the party receiving the spousal support. This is typically awarded if the marriage was very long and one spouse did not work, or where one of the parties is unable to work due to physical or mental illness.

An experienced attorney will provide you with the likely outcome in court and what the best approach is for requesting spousal maintenance and how much to request. Every case is different, and you cannot compare this type of request to the situation of a friend or another family member who went through a divorce.

Jonathan was extremely knowledgeable. He always had answers to my questions and was thorough. He was fierce on the stand against the opposing party’s council. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!