In Washington state, both parents are responsible for supporting their child until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school. The obligation can take the form of a child support payment where one parent (the obligor) pays the other parent (the obligee) who is usually the custodial parent for their portion of the expenses used to raise the child.
You can get an estimate of the amount of the obligation by using the state's child support calculator, which uses the child support economic table. The economic table is based on the following factors:
- monthly income of the parents;
- ages of the children; and
- the number of children involved.
The starting point for calculating the child support amount is the parents' income: gross and net. First, the gross income of both parents is determined. After deductions are made, the net income is determined and the support is calculated by a formula using the state support guidelines that reveals the presumed correct amount. However, the presumption can be overcome with a written finding that shows the amount is unjust.
Washington Child Support Calculations at a Glance
Because the statutes that govern child support calculations are detailed and lengthy, it's efficient to refer to a condensed version of the content. The chart below provides a helpful guide to Washington's child support calculations.
Washington Revised Code:
- Section 26.19.020 (child support economic table)
- Section 26.19.045 (veterans' disability pensions)
- Section 26.19.050 (worksheets and instructions)
- Section 26.19.065 (standards for establishing upper and lower limits on child support amounts)
- Section 26.19.071 (standards for determination of income)
Parents' Combined Monthly Income
Gross Income includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Trust income
- Severance Pay
- Unemployment compensation
- Worker's compensation
- Social Security benefits
- Disability benefits
Deductions includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Federal and state income taxes
- Federal insurance contributions act deductions
- Mandatory union dues
- Mandatory pension plan payments
Calculations Using the Economic Table
The basic child support obligation from the economic table between the parents is based on each parents' share of the combined monthly net income.
Parents can agree to pay more than the presumed amount, but can't pay less. Courts may adjust the payments according to the best interests of the child and each parents' needs.
Not Included in the Economic Table
Some expenses aren't included in the economic table, but should be shared by the parents in the same proportion as the basic child support obligation.
Health care costs including:
- Mental health treatments
- Prescription medications
Day care and special child rearing expenses, including:
- Long-distance transportation costs to visit parents
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Washington Child Support Calculations: Related Resources
Contact a Washington Attorney About Child Support Calculations
Knowing how child support is calculated is significant because it impacts your child's well-being, but using a Washington child support calculator may not be enough to give you an estimate of what may be owed. If you have concerns about child support calculations or other support issues, contact an experienced Washington attorney near you today.