Do I need to pay child support?

One of the questions that I am most frequently asked is whether or not a parent has to pay child support.  If you find yourself asking this question, the answer is almost always “yes”.  Child Support in Washington State is outlined by RCW 26.19, which in short provides financial support to the custodial parent of a child from the noncustodial parent.  In short, if you do not have your child or children for the majority of the time (anything less than 50% of the time), then you will more likely than not be required to pay some amount of child support.

In Washington, child support is based upon three key factors: the number of children involved, the ages of the children, and the incomes of each parent.  Plugging that information into the economic table will give you a basic support obligation.  This is the amount that an obligor (non-custodial parent) must pay on a monthly basis.

A basic obligation may not be the final amount that you need to pay, as many other factors may come into play.  The law allows for the parties to deviate from the standard calculation depending on a number of different factors, including the amount of time that you spend with the child (more time spent equals less payment required) and the number of children you support (if you are paying child support to another person) to name a few.  In addition, there may be monthly expenses that a basic child support obligation doesn’t cover (such as daycare costs) that may be taken into consideration.

It is important to look at all of the relevant factors in your case to determine whether or not these deviations or additional expenses are applicable to your case.  Keep in mind that deviations are at the decision maker’s discretion.  That means that even if you are eligible for a deviation, a judge or commissioner may elect to not apply it in your case.