It is the parents’ legal duty to provide child support for their kids after separation. Washington state acknowledges and determines the guidelines, procedures, and enactment of child support. Every household has a specific case, and the parents’ obligations are varied. In child support cases, the court will help in regulating and resolving the parents’ obligatory contributions.

There are a lot of variables that the court must consider in child support cases, but here are common facts about the Washington state child support system.

Fact One: Mandatory Child Support in Washington State

There’s a child support schedule followed in the state of Washington. The Washington State Child Support Schedule (WSCSS) determines the amount of child support that is mandatorily paid for by the parents, both the custodial and non-custodial. Regardless of the income level of each parent, they are obligated to perform child support as per the Washington State Family Law.

Fact Two: The Average Child Support in Washington State

The initial basis of the average amount is the total net income of both parents combined. But the critical contribution of each parent is calculated to an exact proportion of the percentage of individual income.

Let’s say, for example; it is according to the schedule that the lowest combined income is $1000, and the total child support per month is 21.6% or $216.

In most cases, Parent A and Parent B don’t share 50-50 of the total net income. So, if Parent A provides a share of 55% of the total net income, and Parent B provides a share of 45% of the total net income, then each of them will also contribute those percentages for the total child support.

The breakdown of their individual child support contribution will look like this:

  • Parent A 55% ($550) = $121 per month
  • Parent B 45% ($450) = $99 per month

*The calculation above is applicable only for one-child families. The parents’ obligatory amount for child support has a different computation if they have more than one child. See the Economic Table of the Monthly Basic Child Support Obligation Per Child by the Washington State Legislature

Although the $1000 child support reflects as the smallest on the schedule of contribution, not all parents are capable of providing this amount. It becomes the court’s discretion to calculate the family’s resources, living expenses, etc., and arrive at an equal and impartial division of each parent’s capability to provide for the child.

And whatever the case, each parent is responsible for providing the minimum amount of $50 per month.

The maximum percentage of child support contribution on the schedule is at 45% of a parent’s net income. Then again, if in case that one or both parents have substantial wealth, the amount can increase.

Either way, it is ensured that each parent should contribute a fair payment for their child’s support.

Fact Three: When To Stop Paying Child Support in Washington State

There’s a court order on the decision as to when the parents can stop paying child support in Washington state. Here are the different terms and circumstances:

Age of Majority

According to the Washington State Law, a parent’s child support obligation expires when the child turns 18. This stage refers to the age of majority when the child is capable even without child support.

However, in cases such as when the child has not graduated high school at the age of 18, the parent’s child support obligation should continue until the child graduates or until he or she turns 19— whichever should come first.

Past-Due Support

If and when the child turns 18 and graduates, yet there are overdue payments left under the child support agreement. Payment of the remaining amount should submit to the statute of limitations for collecting past-due child support in Washington, which is due for completion within ten years from the initial due date.

Parents are still under child support obligation until the total child support computation from the court order is contributed.

Post-Secondary Educational Support

The post-secondary educational support is an optional child support program, in which the parents must request an order from the court before the child turns 23. The child’s age is one of the factors that the court will consider before approving the order.

The Washington state can only allow and legally approve the post-secondary educational support request order after evaluating the following considerations:

  • The needs of the child
  • The parent’s expectations of the child
  • The parent’s current and future resources
  • The nature of wanting post-secondary education
  • The aptitudes, abilities, and prospects of the child


*The standard child support order released by the state’s Division of Child Support does not automatically include the post-secondary educational support.

Fact Four: Wage Garnishment for Child Support

Immediate wage garnishment of the non-custodial parent who is also obligated to render the Family Court orders child support contribution in Washington. Technically, what happens is that the Division of Child Support of the Washington State Department of Health and Social Services administers the withholding of court-ordered child support directly from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck and sent straight to the custodial parent.

Fact Five: What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support

If a parent refuses to pay child support in Washington, there’s a major possible scenario.

Criminal Prosecution

As the court determines that the non-paying parent is absolutely capable of providing child support, the parent can be held in contempt. Refusal in performing obligatory child support will bring criminal prosecution in place. Part of the enforcement will include penalties. Those who are holding a professional license will have their license suspended. The parent might also face jail time, pay fines, and charged with misdemeanor or felony due to denial of responsibility ordered by the court.

*If the parent belongs to an Indian Tribe, the Washington court will negotiate with the Tribal Court to come up with an agreement.

How To Handle Child Support Cases in Washington State

There are a lot of resources you can find about the Washington law on child support orders. But, there is no standard law to child support enforcement, and you’re going to need legal help. You need to handle this kind of case with a family law attorney to ensure the best benefits for your child and apply the available remedies that can make the transition less complicated.