Child and Spousal Support
A child support order is required in all cases involving children, and the amount is determined based on a formula that uses the parties net (after tax) income. Other child rearing costs can be added to basic support, such as day care, health care costs, and “extraordinary items” which can include travel, educational, and extracurricular (SNACCMS) expenses.
A number of factors can influence the amount of support, such as the number and age of children. If you wish to see a rough estimate of what support might be, you can do so at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Child Support, Quick Child Support Estimator. https://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/dcs/SSGen/Home/QuickEstimator
For self employed people, determining the net income can sometimes be a challenge. In some cases, such as modifications and for unmarried people, the Washington State Division of Child Support can establish or modify a child support order. Talk to a lawyer if you want to know more about the pros and cons of establishing or modifying a support through DCS or through the court system.
Necessary documentation. The law requires parties to provide the court their last 6 months of pay stubs, last two tax returns, and last two W-2 forms. If those documents are not available, other types of proof of income may suffice for the court.
Support enforcement. Both child and spousal support can be enforced by the court’s contempt power. Support payments can normally be set up through the Division of Child Support if client’s wish, and they can enforce payment. DCS has many ways to force payment of support from unwilling parents.
Spousal support is an option in divorce cases, but it is not an option in cases where the parties are not married. Unlike child support, there is no formula for spousal support, and it can be set based on a number of factors and sometimes even different standards. Usually, the requesting spouse needs to establish a need for support and also the ability of the other spouse to pay. RCW 26.09.090 (full text below) is the statute that sets out the basic guidelines for spousal support, although case law provides more details for how a court might determine support.
Maintenance orders for either spouse or either domestic partner—Factors.
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or domestic partnership, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, or in a proceeding for maintenance following dissolution of the marriage or domestic partnership by a court which lacked personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse or absent domestic partner, the court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse or either domestic partner. The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including but not limited to:
(a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;
(b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;
(c) The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;
(d) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;
(e) The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and
(f) The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.
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