5 Common Child Support Myths in Washington State

Child support is more than just about monthly payments, it is a father’s or mother’s obligation to place the child in the same position she or he would have been had the parents stayed together. There are many child support myths and below are some of them.

Myth 1: Child support payments remain the same until child support stops.

False. Child support payments may be increased or decreased under certain circumstances. There are many factors that may trigger a child support modification, such as change in income for either parents, new job or a job loss, drastic change in the needs of the children, extraordinary medical expenses, etc.

However, if the paying parent quits his/her job to avoid child support, it may be considered as aversion and there may be no decrease in the payment amount. The reason is that both parents must support their children financially and choosing to be unemployed is not in the best interests of a child.

Myth 2: Child support is determined based on the income only.

False. Court will take into consideration such factors as paying parent’s source of income and tax planning; nonrecurring income; children from other relationships; debt and high expenses (e.g. significant disparity in the living costs of the parents due to conditions beyond their control; special medical, educational, or psychological needs of a child). In addition, the court may take into account other important circumstances.

Myth 3: Filing bankruptcy will relieve of the need to pay child support.

False. Child support cannot be discharged by bankruptcy. It applies to current support and back payments. You may pay child support arrears over an extended period of time in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Myth 4: I cannot collect payments owed on child support after my children turn 18.

False. Most states do not have a statute of limitations for child support. Pursuant to RCW 4.16.020(3), the statute of limitations on collection actions on child support orders and arrearage judgments entered after July 23, 1989, is ten years after the youngest child covered by the order turns 18.  This means that you can collect back child support even after your children are grown and moved out in Washington.

Myth 5: Paying parent can stop payments on a child support if he/she is prevented from visiting a child by another parent.

False. You cannot stop paying child support in any case. Child custody or visitation and child support are completely separate matters. You will be found in contempt of court order if you stop the payments. In such case you can only file a custody claim to get or enforce a custody order.

For more information or help on child support, please contact us at 206-838-8118.

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