Calculating Child Support

Setting child support, in the State Of Washington, is based on certain laws that have been enacted by our state representatives. Each parents child support obligation is based on his/her monthly gross income minus certain, allowed, deductions to come up with “net income”. The total net income, of the parents, is used to determine the child support BOTH parents own to the child. Each parents share of the child support is based on his/her share of the net income. The basic income and deduction information, for each parent, appears on a form called “Washington State Child Support Schedule Worksheets” which is attached to the actual child support court order.

Gross Income

For many parents figuring out what their gross income is fairly straight forward (this is the income the employer pays you, each month, before any deductions (taxes, insurance, etc.) are taken out). The ideal situation is where a parent makes a fixed income each month, but sometimes a parent has a job that does not result is a fixed gross income each month. A good example of this is a parent who has a job that is based on commissions that change from month to month. With a parent who has a fluxuating income source one option is to average out that parents income over, say, a one year period.

Allowed Deductions

Once a parents gross income has been calculated, certain allowed deductions are subtracted from it to come up with “net income”. To make sure that all parents are treated equally, not all of the deductions on a parents paycheck may be allowed as a deduction when computing child support. Generally the following are allowed as deductions: federal income tax withholding (note that voluntary over withholding is not allowed); Social Security (a fixed amount of the gross income); FICA (also a fixed amount of the gross income); Labor and Industries (the parents share if the employer deducts it from the employees pay); mandatory union/professional dues and mandatory pension plan payments. Many people have voluntary pension plan deductions (including 401(k)s, etc.), which are allowed up to a certain amount each month.

 Health Insurance

It is very common for a parent to have a monthly health insurance payment deducted from their paycheck. While this deduction is not subtracted from the parents gross income (to compute the basic child support obligation) that portion of the payment used to pay for the child’s insurance does affect the amount of child support that parent ultimately pays. For this reason it is very important that you obtain a copy of any documents, from your employer, that provide a break down of the monthly health, dental and vision insurance payments and provide them to your attorney.

Normal Business Expenses

Most people who are self employed (and sometimes employees) incur expenses to run their business. These expenses, so long as they are normal and reasonable, will be allowed as a deduction from income.

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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.