In connection with a divorce involving minor children, or when unmarried parents separate, child support must be determined. RCW Title 26 governs child support implementation, modification, and enforcement. Different procedural rules apply depending on whether child support is being established for the first time, or modified. See the following links for a discussion of those procedures:
In each of those situations, however, the Court’s determination of the level of child support should be the same. Child support is determined using child support worksheets and a child support schedule which take into account specific factors – the income of each parent, the age and number of the children, for example. The Washington State Division of Child Support has a helpful website here, which includes a child support calculator.
Determination of child support is not purely mathematical, however, as there are factors which cannot be quantified but may affect the child support calculation, such as a parenting plan that provides both parents a substantial amount of time with the children. In addition, there are situations in which one parent may be determined to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, and the Court will be required to impute income to that parent. Some common issues are discussed below.