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Family law: Myths about child support

When marriages end in Washington, couples who have children usually have a lot to learn. Many myths exist about child support, child custody and other family law matters. Rather than relying on information obtained from the internet or friends and family, it might be smarter to get answers from experienced legal counsel.

When it comes to child support, the noncustodial parent might think that only he or she is responsible for the financial support of the child. In fact, both parents are responsible. When the court calculates the amount of child support to be paid by the noncustodial parent, it considers the financial circumstances of both parents. The custodial parent also contributes financially to the needs of the child, along with providing a home and nonfinancial parental care.

Another misconception is that being unemployed removes a parent's child support obligations. That is a myth, and it could have dire consequences, including fines and penalties such as the revocation of a driver's license and wage garnishments when employed again. The failure to comply with a court-ordered child support order could even lead to jail time.

A noncustodial parent who becomes unemployed might do better to consult with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can explain the way child support laws work in Washington, and after assessing the circumstances, he or she can suggest the best way to proceed. Options include filing a petition in court to modify the child support amount or to defer payments for a specific period. Only court-approved changes to child support will be valid, and legal counsel can provide the necessary support and guidance throughout ensuing legalities.

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