10 Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support in Washington State

1. What is Child Support?

Child support is money paid by one spouse to the other to pay for the child’s expenses.

2. Do I have to be married to the other person to get Child Support?


3. Can the other parent and I agree on the amount of child support?

No. It must be calculated, based on net incomes and age of the child(ren), according to the Washington State Child Support Schedule and then made part of a child support order reviewed and signed by a Judge.

4. How long does a person have to pay child support?

Generally until a child is 18 years old or graduates high school, whichever occurs later. Beyond that, child support is not mandatory subject to narrow exceptions (disabled dependent child, etc.). Post-secondary, or college expenses, are not mandatory, but may be awarded under certain circumstances.

5. Do I still need to pay child support in a 50/50 parenting plan?

Maybe. It depends on the income and financial resources of the primary/custodial parent, and the extent the other parent will be left with sufficient funds to meet the basic needs of the child.

The law also requires evidence showing how the additional residential time results in increased expenses to the non-primary parent, and decreased expenses, if any, to the party receiving support, though some judges require less stringent proof than others.

6. What if a party is not paying the ordered child support?

Past-child support becomes due, collects interest, and is subject to contempt proceedings by the State or other parent at any time up to 10 years after the youngest child covered by the order turns 18.

7. Can I force the other parent to give an accounting of how my monthly child support transfer
payment is being spent?


8. What if my spouse doesn’t want to work?

If the spouse is capable of working, the law will impute income to a voluntarily unemployed spouse as if they were working on a full-time basis in computing child support.

9. What if my spouse during a divorce quits his high paying job (e.g, Amazon) to work at a much lower paying job (e.g., Wendy’s) or start their own small business earning less income?

The court will assume the spouse is voluntarily underemployed, and “impute” income they are capable of earning at the historical rate of pay in calculating child support.

10. What if my spouse during a divorce is fired from his job?

The court may allow the spouse some time to obtain new employment, but will eventually assume the spouse is earning their historical rate of pay and “impute” that income in computing child support. An exception may exist if the spouse has a good-faith reason for not obtaining employment, such as lack of job opportunity due to economic circumstances, health, or similar justifiable reasons that prevent employment.