If you have children, the best way to protect your interests upon separating is to file the documents needed to request a Child Support order that will be established by the court.
Child Support is calculated according to The Washington State Support Schedule, which is a table of formulas that determines how much a spouse has to pay based on the age of the child or children and the combined income of both parties. The Schedule will presumptively determine a calculation when the combined net monthly net income is below $5,000. When the combined net income is between $5,000 and $7,000 the court will set an "advisory amount."
What if my spouse makes more money than what the Schedule provides for and our combined income is higher than $7,000?
If a spouse's income is higher than what the Schedule provides for, an argument can be made to set child support at a higher amount or "extrapolate" beyond the schedule. The court will look at such factors as the income and expenses of the parents, whether the requested higher amount is reasonable and what the child's expenses are.
What if my spouse is unemployed and cannot find work?
Child support is calculated on income and if a person cannot find work and is giving their best effort to do so the courts may take this into account. At a minimum the law requires that a spouse pay $50 per child per month even if the non -custodial spouse is low income.
What if my spouse quits his or her job and is refusing to work even though he or she could?
The law disfavors parents who try to avoid their child support obligations. If it can be established that a person is voluntarily unemployed or under employed a court can "impute" income to them and set an amount of child support that is based on what they feel the spouse should be making.
Child Support is a critical aspect of any proceeding involving couples with children. It is advisable that you consult an attorney to guide you through the process, as it can be complicated and emotionally charged.