In Washington, ordinarily both parents are expected to contribute financially to the well-being of their children. The main tool used to achieve that in in divorce and separation is so-called child support. Child support has several components which much be addressed addressed in every divorce involving a child.
Child support normally has two components: (a) a periodic (usually monthly) “transfer payment” of money from one parent to another, and (b) obligations to pay specific child expenses, such as work-related child care. There are other approaches to child support that may be acceptable so long as it is clear that the children are well taken care of by their parents.
In Washington, if a court determines child support, the law provides that a presumed child support transfer payment and percentage sharing is starts with determining the net incomes of the parents. The initial presumed (but not automatic) transfer payment and percentages are determined from a completed child support worksheet. The worksheet is not the end of the inquiry if a court makes the decision. The judge must still decide whether the numbers on the worksheet are appropriate. A child support worksheet is therefore merely a supporting document.
The amounts on the child support worksheet can lead to questionable outcomes. The child support worksheet ignores the actual cost of raising your children, different costs of living across the state, the time children spend in each household, the actual expenditures for kids in each household, the possible desirability of maintaining neighborhood stability for children, children’s special needs, and other circumstances.
In divorce mediation, the terms of child support are negotiated, typically based on the complete financial picture in each household and the specific circumstances of your family. This affords the opportunity to tailor child support to match what will be best for you and your children.
If you live in the Seattle or King County area and would like to learn about reaching a child support agreement, please contact Seattle divorce mediator Mark Weiss by completing the form on this page.