04 May Child Support Rights for Divorcing Fathers
In matters of child custody and child support, Washington State places the best interests of the child first. Divorcing parents can agree on a parenting plan regarding custody, visitation, and support, but the court must approve the arrangement.
The other guiding principle in divorce in Washington State that impacts child support rights for divorcing fathers is that divorce decrees must be “fair and equitable.” Courts have substantial leeway in how they determine fairness and equity. It is important to understand that “equity” does not mean “equality.” Division of property and the determination of spousal and child support is not doled out on a 50-50 basis but based on a just and fair outcome.
The court will look at the entirety of the couple’s domestic, financial, and parental arrangements to determine a just result for both partners.
Reasons for Child Support
Child support payments are exactly what they sound like: money intended to provide for the needs of the child, including basics like food, shelter, and clothing. But it chould also cover school fees, medical expenses and dental care, and costs for extra-curricular or recreational activities, often times on a percentage based on the household incomes..
Courts assume that the custodial parent, or the parent that spends the most time with the child or children, needs more money to go toward the child’s support. The court will consider each parent’s net income. Even if a parent is unemployed or retired, the court will look at income from Social Security, disability payments, or income from part-time employment to determine what percentage of child support each partner should pay.
Child Support Is Separate from Visitation
Visitation rights are not dependent on child support. Absent evidence of inappropriate behavior or factors that would make a parent unfit to spend time with their children, a parent is entitled to visitation to maintain a relationship with their child regardless of whether they pay child support.
Myths About Child Support Rights for Divorcing Fathers
Many fathers still wrongly believe that they will always pay support or pay more support than mothers, regardless of their financial situation. This is false: a father who has been a stay-at-home dad, who was awarded primary physical custody of the children, or who simply makes less money than the mother, may receive an award of child support from the mother.
Non-custodial mothers with visitation will pay support to custodial fathers. Child support rights for divorcing fathers depend on the father’s contributions during the marriage, their relationships with their children, and their income.
Neither parent will get away with willful unemployment or underemployment as a ploy to avoid paying child support. A court may determine “imputed” income if it is apparent that a parent’s education, skills, and work history show they could easily be earning more and bear a larger percentage of the cost of child support.
As child support lawyers in Washington State, the attorneys at LaCoste Family Law can help fathers assess the likely outcome of child support decisions and estimate the amount they would pay. Washington state fathers can contact our firm for advice concerning father’s rights, custody, child support, and spousal support.