What are Washington's laws on child support payments?

Understanding Washington State's Child Support Laws

In the state of Washington, child support is a legal obligation mandated by state law to ensure that the financial needs of a child are met when their parents are no longer together. Child support payments are determined by a set of guidelines that take into account the income of both parents, the number of children, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

How Is Child Support Calculated in Washington?

Washington uses a standard calculation model, primarily based on the Washington State Child Support Schedule. The formula considers both parents' net incomes and allocates the financial responsibility proportionally. The state also recognizes that supporting a child involves more than just day-to-day living expenses, so additional costs like healthcare, education, and childcare are also factored into support orders.

Modification and Enforcement of Child Support

Life circumstances change, and as such, child support orders may need to be modified. In Washington, either parent can request a review and modification of the child support order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Enforcement of these orders is taken seriously, and failure to comply can result in wage garnishment, suspension of licenses, or even legal penalties.

Non-Payment and Legal Consequences

Historically, non-payment of child support has been a significant issue across the United States. To combat this, Washington has implemented strict enforcement measures. For example, in a landmark case in 2002, the Division of Child Support within the Department of Social and Health Services pursued delinquent parents more aggressively, leading to increased collections. This reflects the state's commitment to protecting children's welfare through rigorous enforcement of support payments.


Washington's laws on child support payments embody an effort to ensure that children receive adequate financial support from both parents. These laws are designed to adapt to changing family dynamics while upholding the interests and well-being of children as a top priority.