There are several ways that a parent, having primary care of a minor child, can obtain child support from the parent not living with the child. The most common way that child support is set is during a divorce or legal separation action in Superior Court. But at any time after the parents have separated either parent can request the State of Washington to set child support “administratively”. The Division of Child Support (which is an agency under the State of Washington Department Of Social and Health Services) can set child support when the parents are not living together and there is no Superior Court order that addresses the child support. This means that it is possible for child support to be set, administratively, even during an on going divorce or legal separation action in the Superior Court.
Both the administrative and Superior Court proceedings use the same set of Washington laws to set child support. So, at least in theory, given the same facts, the basic child support should be the same amount under either process. One important difference involves the issue of determining who can claim the child as a federal tax exemption. The Division of Child Support is NOT allowed to address this issue but a Superior Court judge can.
While the Division of Child Support can address child support independently of the Superior Courts one should talk to a family law attorney to discuss these options. The same rules are used to set the basic child support amount, but the procedures used in both the administrative and Superior Court processes are very different. Having worked with both the Division of Child Support and the courts I will be able to help you weight these options.
This article is not intended to convey legal advice, but only address some of the general rules. Most legal issues, in family law cases, depend on the specific facts. Should you wish to discuss your particular situation with the Law Office of Thomas A. Chillquist, please call or email my office. I represent parties in family law matters in King and Pierce County, including Kent, Federal Way, Covington, Renton, SeaTac, Des Moines, Fife, Auburn, Seattle and Bellevue.