Child & Spousal Support
CHILD SUPPORT LAWYER AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Child custody is a big family law issue for both parties in any divorce. Typically, the party with less custody pays more support. This can be a frustrating and confusing reality for newly divorced parents to accept. Many people are left asking, why should I have to pay more to get less time with my kids? It is a fair question. The answer is that when it comes to child support Washington State is only concerned with maintaining your children’s living standard, which is unrelated to your visitation rights. That’s where a family law attorney comes in.
WHAT DOES CHILD SUPPORT COVER?
Child support is intended to help the primary custodian continue to provide the lifestyle your children are accustomed to. Typically the custodian is the parent with more time with the kids. This includes contributing to the rent or mortgage for a safe home for the children as well as utilities, food, and everyday needs like shampoo and toothpaste.
Some needs, like school and sports expenses, are not covered by child support and are often addressed separately in the support order. Unfortunately, if these issues are not addressed properly in the order, it can be very difficult and expensive to try to add them in later. It is a good idea to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you identify your children’s long-term needs and draft a support order for child custody that will provide what they need from the beginning.
HOW MUCH WILL I PAY/RECEIVE?
Washington State uses a worksheet to determine who pays what amount of child support to the other parent. If you have income information for each party you can get an idea of what that might look like here: Calculator link.
MODIFYING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER
Modifying a support order can be challenging but it is not impossible. Sometimes a major change in circumstances for one parent requires an adjustment to the monthly amount. This is typically a big and permanent change that impacts one party’s financial position. A family law attorney can help you evaluate the changes in your situation and draft a modification that fairly updates the child support order.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I or THE OTHER PARTY MISSES CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
Child support is a major component of each parent’s financial picture. The parent that receives it counts on it for daily living expenses, including rent or mortgage, groceries, and utilities while the person paying it may have to make severe adjustments to their lifestyle to budget for it. For these reasons sometimes payments are missed, which puts all parties in a difficult spot. There are generally two reasons why support is not paid: refusal and inability.
THE OTHER PARENT IS REFUSING TO MAKE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
Washington State recognizes that children tend to do better in a financially stable environment. If a parent is refusing to pay support, a family law firm can help you enforce a support order through the court system. Before taking this step, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have a valid court order that requires the other parent to pay support?This may be a Child Support Order signed by a judge or commissioner and entered in your case, or an Administrative Support Order from the Division of Child Support.
- Does the paying parent know about the order?Ideally you would want to know they have a copy of the order.
- Does the paying parent have the ability to follow the order?Were they working full time or were they injured, incarcerated, or are otherwise unable to work as they could before?
- Did the paying parent significantly fail to follow the order?Did they ignore or willfully refuse to follow the order or were they a few days late making the payment?
A child support attorney can help you navigate these issues and, depending on what you need, either establish a valid order or enforce the current order.
WHAT IS THE DIVISION OF CHILD SUPPORT
Some support orders direct the parents to register with the The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Division of Child Support (DCS). This office can help parents on either side of the support struggle get the help they need. DCS can assist a parent not receiving support by acting as a neutral third party. They collect payments either from the other party’s employer or by direct payment from the paying party and send them to the receiving parent.
For the paying party, DCS also has an excellent resource program called Alternative Solutions that is designed to connect parents who are struggling to make payments with different forms of financial assistance.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT ATTORNEY IN TACOMA, WA
Spousal support, formerly known as alimony and now known as spousal maintenance, is allowed by state law but not automatically required. It can be granted to either party as long as two major criteria are met: need and ability to pay.
It is not uncommon for married couples to invest more into one party’s education and career than the other giving one person a significant income earning advantage. This doesn’t just apply to stay-at-home parents who support the other person’s career. It applies to any scenario where one person has the ability to earn more or has established themselves as the sole financial provider in the partnership.
HOW MUCH SPOUSAL SUPPORT WILL I RECEIVE or HAVE TO PAY?
An experienced spousal support lawyer from a trusted family law firm can help you determine what amount of support is appropriate and how long it should be paid. In most cases spousal maintenance is ordered for a limited period of time and ends early if one party passes away or the receiving party gets remarried. In some circumstances, typically marriages of over 25 years where one person did not work or made much less than the other person, support may be indefinite.
It is a good idea to consult a spousal support attorney on your rights if you think maintenance may apply to your case. Regardless if you are the person paying support or receiving support a spousal support lawyer can help you get an order that is fair and reasonable in your unique situation.
Contact the Law Office of Mark D. Nelson, family law attorney, for exceptional child custody support and spousal support representation.
Our office is here to help! Call us and let us assist with your child support or custody issues. Whether you are still in the contemplation phase or many months into the process, contact us.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided above is intended to be a general discussion of common mediation issues. It is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice that applies to your individual fact situation. Always seek legal counsel for advice on your unique case needs.