Child support is usually regulated on state and local levels, but not always. The Child Support Recovery Act (1992) and the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (1998) allow federal interference in the case of severe offenders. The state of Washington has specific penalties for those who willfully fail to meet their parental duties. However, these apply to those outright refusing to meet their obligations, not those who cannot.
If parents are financially unable to keep up with required child maintenance payments, they have recourse. They may appeal the judge’s original decision. If an economic situation changes for the worse after the deadline for appeals has passed, parents have the option of contacting the court. They may request modifications to their order from a judge. To proceed with this, it is necessary to understand the factors used to determine child support.
Combined parental income
Courts use the Washington State Child Support Schedule for calculating the child support amount. The parents’ combined net income (gross income with federal and state taxes deducted) is a major consideration. Besides salary/wages, this includes proceeds from other sources such as pensions, severance, dividends, trusts, commissions and more.
What each parent owes is proportionate to individual contribution to the earnings. Benefits such as Social Security, disability and unemployment count as income. Unemployed or underemployed parents may also bear responsibility for a portion of the child support, depending on the circumstances.
Previously, children aged 12 and above qualified for more child support than younger ones. As of 2019, this is no longer so. The schedule treats all children equally regardless of age, as seen in the updated version.
Number of children
The number of children is part of the basis for calculating the basic child support obligation. This is the amount owed each month.
Generally, the court imposes child support on the noncustodial figure. However, the court may rule that both parents must pay.