When a couple shares a child and is no longer together in Washington State, it is paramount that the child be cared for adequately. Often this means that one parent will pay support to the custodial parent to ensure that the child's needs are met. Rules and regulations are in place in the state to make certain that certain child related expenses -- like the child's everyday expenses -- are covered. Certain factors will be dealt with when the child support formula is determined and the decisions are made as to where the child will live and what the visitation rights will be.
When there is a divorce or legal separation, the court will make an order for one or both parents to pay for the child's upkeep. This is true whether the couple was legally married or not. If there is a dispute regarding paternity that must be settled, however, before child support is ordered.
The child support order is meant to pay for the child's health insurance, transportation, housing and basic care. The child support order will also detail how long the payments will be made and for how much.
One frequent issue that arises is how much will be paid to support the child. The state of Washington uses a child support formula based on the Washington State Child Support Schedule. The income of both parents is taken into account, as are expenses that must be paid out for the child's care. This can be modified and altered based on the situation. It is based on the combined income post-taxes, how old the children are and how many children are in the family.
After a set time frame, the support amount can change. Child support will generally end at the time the child turns 18 or graduates from high school -- whichever is the last to happen. It is also possible to order support so the child can attend college or a different type of school for job training purposes. If a custodial parent is not receiving what the person is supposed to, the child support order can be enforced by filing a motion in court. When child support is a worry, it's important to discuss the matter with a legal professional experienced in state law.
Source: Washington Courts, "Chapter 10 - Child Support," accessed on Feb. 24, 2015