Child Support

RCW 26.18 AND 26.19

Child support is not only an issue in divorce cases, but can arise in other family law cases such as parenting plan modifications, paternity, non-parental custody, and relocation. The domestic courts are actually required to ensure that an appropriate child support arrangement is reached in all family law cases that involve children – this is to ensure that parents adequately support their own children rather than the state taxpayers. Child support cases are often complex, requiring representation from a knowledgeable lawyer.

We have represented clients with varying child support needs. We are experienced in:

  • Establishing child support,
  • Modifying child support, and
  • Enforcing child support obligations.
  • Calculating Child Support

Child support payments are calculated based on a statutory formula. See RCW 26.19.

In Washington, child support is calculated primarily by determining the net income of both parents. Determining net income is fairly simple in the case of W-2 wage earners with no additional sources of income. Determining net income can become significantly more complex when the party is unemployed, underemployed, a business owner, or receives an irregular or sporadic income. In the more complex cases, it may require the retention of a financial expert to assist with proving someone’s income.

To arrive at a fair child support resolution, you need a lawyer who will go to great lengths to obtain the necessary documents that accurately establish net income. At Purcell Law, we have achieved countless successful case outcomes for clients, even when net income was difficult to prove.

What Are "Extraordinary Expenses"?

In addition to basic child support obligations, parents will also have to share the burden of additional expenses, often referred to as “extraordinary expenses.” Extraordinary expenses do not fall under the category of child support. These expenses can include:

  • Can also include uninsured medical expenses,
  • Education or school related expenses,
  • Sports and other extracurricular activities,
  • Work-related childcare,
  • Long distance travel, and more.

Like child support, the payment of extraordinary expenses is also based on the parents’ net incomes. Once net incomes are determined, each parent’s proportional share of the combined net income is determined. The resulting percentage is used to allocate responsibility for extraordinary expenses.

Example of Determining Obligation for Extraordinary Expenses

If John’s net income is $6,000 a month, and Jane’s net income is $4,000 a month, the combined net income of both parties is $10,000. John’s share of the combined net income is 60% ($6000 / $10,000), and Jane’s share is 40% ($4,000 / $10,000). Thus, John should pay 60% of extraordinary expenses, and Joan will pay 40%.

Enforcing Child Support

When the parent charged with paying child support fails to make these payments or make them on time, a private party or the state can file enforcement actions or contempt actions for enforcing a child support order. Purcell Law has handled many enforcement and contempt actions, and have experience with back support judgments – both for parties pursuing those judgments and for parties defending against them.


If you need assistance with any child support issues, we invite you to contact our firm to schedule a consultation appointment.