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What should I know about child support in Washington?

Whether you have just wrapped up child custody negotiations with your ex-spouse and a family law judge or are just starting the process, you probably have some questions about child support. If you do, then you're not alone.

Lots of people across Washington are unfamiliar with the laws that govern this process and often have questions about how they will know if they have to pay and may wonder about the amount they will be responsible for paying as well. Hopefully we can answer some of these questions in today's blog post.

Who enforces child support?

In our state, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services Division of Child Support enforces child support obligations. Any parent who is obligated to make child support payments but fails to do so can face legal consequences.

How are support payments calculated?

The DCS takes into consideration both parents' monthly incomes and debts, health care expenses, day care costs and other financial obligations. The judge will then make a decision about an amount and who should pay. If financial circumstances change, a request for modification can be made.

What happens if there is a missed payment?

After a support order is received, the named parent is responsible for making payments in a correct and timely manner. Depending on what the support order dictates, this can be done through the Washington State Support Registry.

It's important to note, that state law allows the DCS to "take collection actions even if the noncustodial parent is not behind in support payments." This could come as a shock to many parents and could affect their likelihood of seeking legal counsel with their own case.

Source: Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, "Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility (NFFR)," Accessed Aug. 18, 2014

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