Is support always calculated as a "per month per child" amount?

Note: See WAC 388-14A-3200(4) and 388-14A-4800 through 388-14A-4830.

  • Although RCW 26.23.050(5)(d) provides that every child support order must state the monthly child support obligation as a sum certain amount, it does not require the support obligation to be stated in a "differentiated" or "per month per child" amount when more than one child is covered by the order.
  • When DCS calculates a support obligation for more than one child, DCS may set the monthly support obligation as an "undifferentiated" amount if one or more of the following are true:
    • The calculation involves a deviation from the standard calculation based on the existence of children from other relationships,
    • The support obligation is limited to not exceed 45% of the noncustodial parent's monthly net income,
    • The support obligation is subject to the self-support reserve limitation, and the monthly support obligation is greater than the presumptive minimum obligation of fifty dollars per month per child,
    • Part III of the worksheets includes health care or day care expenses.
  • When DCS sets support as an undifferentiated amount, this means that the monthly support amount remains the same as long as at least one child remains covered by the order.

EXAMPLE: DCS is setting support for three children. Assume the order sets the monthly support obligation at $600:

  • If the order clearly states that the support obligation is set at $200 per month per child, DCS calls this a "differentiated" order. When the oldest child emancipates, the monthly support obligation drops to $400 per month.
  • If the order does not provide a specific support obligation for each child or does not contain information or instructions in either the order or the worksheets associated with the order to justify dividing the monthly amount into "per child" amounts for each child covered by the support order, DCS calls this an "undifferentiated" order. Even after the two older children emancipate, the monthly support obligation remains at $600 per month.

If you still have questions, contact your support enforcement officer at the phone number listed on the last page of the notice you received. If you are not sure which office handles your case, call the KIDS line at 1-800-442-KIDS (5437).