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5 Common Child Support Myths in Washington State

Myth 1:

You don’t have to pay child support if you have a 50/50 parenting plan.

Fact:  While it is true that in some cases with 50/50 parenting plans there will be no transfer payment of child support from one parent to the other, in many 50/50 cases, especially those where the parents’ incomes are very different, one parent may still have to pay money to the other parent for the support of the child.

Myth 2:

Child support transfer payments cover all the necessary financial support for kids.

In most orders of child support the transfer payment is only part of the amount the paying parent will have to pay for the child.  The paying parent will still have to pay for his or her portion of day care, uninsured medical expenses (including medical, orthodontia, dental, vision, etc.), and other expenses etc. See 26.19.080.

Myth 3:

If the child stays extra time at the paying parent’s house (in violation of the parenting plan), the paying parent can reduce the amount she/he pays the other parent.

Fact:  This is partially true and partially false.  It is true that in cases where the paying parent goes to the court and requests a modification of the parenting plan and order of child support based on the fact that the child is spending a significant amount of time at their house (despite the current order saying the child should be at the receiving parent’s home), the court may reduce or eliminate the amount to be paid.  It is not true in cases where the paying parent just starts informally paying the receiving parent less.  In these cases, the receiving parent could bring a court action to receive the remainder of the child support owed under the court order despite the fact that the parents are not following the parenting plan.

Myth 4:

If the paying parent does not pay support, the receiving parent may withhold the child from court ordered visitation.

Fact:  The issue of child support and residential time under the parenting plan are separate issues.  If one parent is not complying with a court order the other parent may be able to obtain relief from the court including a potential contempt order against the other party, but it is usually not a good idea to address a failure by one parent to comply with a court order by breaking a court order in return.

Myth 5:

Child support is based on salary only.

Fact:  In cases where a parent is paid an annual salary alone, this is true.  But, if a parent’s income is based on salary and commission, bonuses, or incentives, the child support amount may include that information as well.  For the list of some of the types of income the courts may consider for purposes of setting child support, see RCW 26.19.071(3).

If you want to obtain more information about child support laws in Washington State and how they might affect your case, please contact Blair & Kim today.  Our family law attorneys are prepared to help guide you and advocate for you in your child support case.