Divorce in Washington does not remove the responsibility of a parent to support his or her child. Family law requires even a noncustodial parent who relocates and has limited contact with the child to share the support until the emancipation of the child. Fortunately, most parents want what is in the best interest of their children when marriages end.
When looking at it from the court's viewpoint, both parents have legal child support responsibilities, which are based on the child's needs as well as the individual abilities, incomes and assets of the parents. When it comes to their incomes, the court typically uses the after-tax income for child support calculations. Because the custodial parent typically provides the household and associated needs, the noncustodial parent is expected to share in the responsibility of supporting the child.
The aim of the child support law is not to punish one parent but rather to fairly distribute the financial responsibilities. Where possible, the court will always try to ensure that the child will live similarly to what he or she was used to before the divorce. Because the dynamics of each family are unique, numerous variables will come into play when the court issues a child support order.
A parent who is in the throes of divorce in Washington might find comfort in knowing that an experienced family law attorney can provide valuable support and guidance. A lawyer can assist with negotiations or arrange for divorce mediation. A divorcing couple can negotiate child support, and although the final say will be that of the court, it might accept the negotiated agreement, or modify it where necessary before making it a formal child support order.