Will The Court In Washington State Consider Income Of A Spouse, Partner, Or Housemate When Determining Child Support?
Posted Jan 21, 2014
By Washington State Family Law Lawyer Dimitra S. Scott
The short answer: Maybe.
The criteria for calculation of the parents’ basic support obligation arises under RCW 26.19.071(1), which states “[o]nly the income of the parents of the children whose support is at issue shall be calculated.”
After determination of the standard calculation, the Court is authorized to deviate from this calculation under certain circumstances. There is no formula to calculate an appropriate deviation in each case. Deviations from support are discretionary. The Court must look at the total circumstances of both households, which, among other factors, additional household income.
RCW 26.19.075 expressly prohibits using additional household income as a sole basis for deviation. There must be another basis to request a deviation, such as support paid for children from other relationships or substantial residential time (e.g., the residential credit). Whenever the court determines that deviation from the standard calculation may be warranted for any of the sanctioned reasons, our Courts have repeatedly held, “all income and resources of the parties before the court, new spouses, and other adults in the households shall be disclosed and considered . . . .” In re Marriage of Bell, 101 Wn App. 366, 4 P.3d 849 (2000).
It is also appropriate for the Court to consider the wealth that the additional income allows the household to accumulate. See Brandli v. Talley, 98 Wn. App. 521, 991 P.2d 94 (1999). Even income and resources of a “housemate” is appropriately before the Court. In re Marriage of Bell, 101 Wn App. 366, 4 P.3d 849 (2000).
How does this impact you?
To put this into practical terms, let’s assume you are obligated to pay child support. You request to reduce your support due to the support you provide to a child from another relationship. To grant your request, the Court must consider the resources available in each parent’s household, which may (or may not) include the income of a new spouse, partner, or housemate.
If your former spouse moves in with a fledgling musician, working part-time at the local Starbucks, playing 1 gig a month, with the dream make it “BIG” someday, there is likely less impact on the resources available in their household. While the additional household income must be disclosed, the added resources alone do not justify your deviation request.
On the other hand, should your former spouse marry Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman, the Court may be more persuaded to consider the increased income, household resources, and accumulation of wealth in the household to support your case for a deviation.
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