After Divorce: Spousal and Child Support

Child of divorced parents

After Divorce: Spousal and Child Support

In Washington State, the Family Courts encourage divorced couples with a child to both be involved in raising the child. This means that couples will either work together, or with a family law attorney to create a parenting plan and present it to the Family Court. 

When there is an agreement among parents, assuming it is what is in the best interest of the child, the court generally does not interfere with the plan. When couples disagree over the plan, the court will consider each parent’s proposal and make a ruling. In some instances, the courts may even appoint a guardian ad litem to suggest a parenting plan, if the couple cannot agree, or if there are special circumstances that do not further the best interest of the child.

Parenting plans can be changed as long as both parents agree, and/or if the court believes that there is a significant change in circumstances which would support an alteration to the parenting plan. 

Custody plans sometimes vary. Typically, both parents share responsibility over the child (Also known as Joint Custody). In some plans, however, one parent has the child more than the other parent. When this happens, that parent is  designated the primary custodian, and the other parent is granted a plan for visitation with the child. The Family Court will also consider the child’s wishes about which parent he or she wishes to live with as long as the court considers the child mature enough to decide. However, in general, the court wants to keep the children neutral. 

The parenting plan should have a plan for resolving disputes between parents. If the parents cannot find a solution to an argument over how one is raising the child, then both parents can go to mediation, arbitration (generally done by an attorney or member of the legal community, an arbitrator will review positions from each party and make a decision based on those facts, an arbitration agreement is binding). Or, you can choose to litigate (go to court), to resolve the disagreement. 

The Family Court may require the parent will less residential time to pay child support, depending on the parenting responsibilities. The amount a parent has to pay is based on the person’s income, additional expenses, and number of children. Usually, child support ends when the child turns 18 or graduates high school. 

Some divorcing couples also seek spousal support. This is economic support provided by one spouse to another during a legal separation, divorce, or annulment. The court considers the finances, health, and employment of the person when determining if spousal support if appropriate, and for how long it is to be paid. 

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The information contained in this guide is made available by LaCoste Law, PLLC for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be considered legal advice. The transmission and receipt of this information doesn’t form or constitute an attorney-client relationship. Persons receiving the information contained in this guide should not make decisions or take action without first seeking professional legal counsel. 

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