There has been a great deal of conversation regarding the recent changes to child support laws in Washington State. The recent changes, effective January 1, 2019, essentially revamped the child support table that had previously been utilized since October 1, 2009 to calculate what parents were required to pay in order to support their children. The changes address issues with child support amounts that were calculated based on the age of the child. Being aware of the recent changes and how they may benefit your child support calculations is important to be sure you are being paid accurately based on the new child support economic table. If you are having difficulty understanding the recent changes, it is recommended to review the information below:

 What were the changes to child support?

 Washington State has made considerable modifications to how child support payments are calculated. Previously, the child support calculation was based on this chart, which calculated child support based on the children’s age bracket. Essentially, children twelve years of age or older received higher monthly child support allotments than those under twelve years old. This old formula also calculated child support  based on the net family income and number of children within each family.  Washington State found this method of calculating child support caused insufficient funds for many parents with children under twelve years of age.  Specifically, parents did not receive enough child support to cover basic necessities such as food, rent, doctor’s appointments, and transportation.

Washington has removed the age brackets and child support is now the same amount (for the basic support) regardless of the child’s age.

Now,  parents with children younger than twelve years old, will be able to receive more support than before even if their divorce case was finalized before January 1, 2019. In addition, there is a new Child Support Order (FL All Family) that removes the section mentioning the automatic increase in child support once a child reaches twelve since that section does not apply anymore. The most updated information about the recent legislation can be found here.

What About Support for Children Over Twelve?

The new child support economic table has little impact on children between ages twelve and eighteen years old. The rates of child support for this particular age group remain consistent. The recent changes were mainly focused on making child support payments standardized based on the net household income and the number of children in the family. The recent legislation in Washington will closely examine each parent’s earnings and allocate the appropriate standardized amount based on that net income and percentage of time the children spend with each parent. This calculation is made in order to effectively consider what each parent will spend based on the time they spend with the children if it is not a 50/50 custody arrangement. 

Who Will these Child Support Changes Impact?

For parents who finalized their divorce settlement agreements before January 1, 2019, the new regulations could potentially impact the amount of child support they are paying. If the children are under twelve years of age, they are permitted to request for a change of child support allocation. There is no time limit on when parents can file for this amendment; however, it is recommended to do so sooner rather than later in order to collect the full amount that parents or guardians are legally entitled to under the new child support economic table. The goal of this policy change is to ultimately ensure parents have adequate financial tools to maintain their children’s livelihood.

Will These Changes Impact My Child Custody Order?

While there have been substantial changes to the child support economic table, child custody stemming from the custody order that courts assign to parents referring to what percentage of time that the children will spend with each parent will not be affected by the recent changes. 

Useful Information to Be Aware Of 

Washington State does have a projected child custody calculator where parents can get a general idea of what their child support payments would be. When making these calculations, it is important to realistically examine current financials to prepare for this increased expense that sometimes can present a major challenge to recently single parents. While this calculator can be an excellent resource for prospective parents to use, it is still best to consult with an attorney in order to get the most up-to-date information that may have a substantial impact on the outcome of what the designated child support payments will end up being.

Should I Consult with a Child Support Attorney? 

Deciding to consult an attorney for your upcoming divorce proceedings is an important decision that could impact your family’s life for many years to come. Generally speaking, it is best to consult with an attorney if you’re considering a divorce. This is particularly true if there are substantial assets to be divided along with dependents to consider. Having an attorney who understands the recent changes to RCW.26.19.020 for the Child Support Schedule will increase your chances of receiving the fair amount of child support. Envision Family Law was founded in 1998 by Timothy Healy and Jason Benjamin. The firm specializes in practice areas primarily concerning Family Law related to Divorce, Child Custody, Support, and other family matters. To learn more about Envision Family Law’s services, Tacoma child custody attorneys or to schedule your complimentary consultation, reach out to them here or by calling (888) 211-7814.