Can Child Support be Put on Hold for Mediation?
Child support is part of every parenting plan in Washington state. But what happens when mediation is ordered or necessary because of the county you filed in, such as Snohomish County? Are you able to pause child support while you and the other parent try to determine what is in the best for the child? What if you decide to modify child support or even end it altogether during mediation?
The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers understands the uncertainty that a divorce, parenting plan, and even mediation can cause. In this blog post, we'll provide you with information regarding what mediation is, addressing child support during mediation, and whether child support can be placed on hold while you're finishing the mediation process. If you have questions after reading this article, please schedule your free consultation with us by clicking here. We're glad to answer your questions.
This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice on child support and mediation in Washington state, The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers offers free consultations.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a tool the Washington State Family Court uses to help settle disputes outside the courtroom and without going to trial. It's economical. It takes less time than waiting to go to trial. It can be a great asset to families that can look past their differences and focus on what is best for the children involved. It is your first significant opportunity to practice co-parenting.
The parenting plan can and should be discussed during mediation. Aspects of a parenting plan that mediation helps resolve include child support disputes , child custody, and other family matters. In fact, every possible problem that either of you thinks may occur now, soon, or any time between the day mediation takes place, or the time the children involved turn 18 should be discussed and possible solutions listed. For example, Washington state does not have a minimum age that a child must be to choose which parent they wish to live with. They do not get a legal say in this matter. If you have a son and you think at a certain age they may wish to go live with the other parent, such as going to live with dad, you would want to address this in the parenting plan.
Creating solutions for actual or potential problems and having them in the parenting plan can make life for your family much more manageable. While Washington state parenting plan modifications exist, they can be time-consuming, and expensive, and there's no guarantee the court will accept it.
Mediation for Child Support
Child support is often a high conflict area when drafting a parenting plan , regardless of whether you were married to the other parent. Both parties will likely have an opinion on how things should go and the amount that should be paid. Parents often forget that child support is not a punishment. Both parents are financially responsible for the children. Child support is how the State helps ensure that the parent who does not reside in the home with the child helps with the child's financial needs.
Child support will be determined and included in the plan when the parenting plan is formed. Once the courts sign this document, it is a legally binding order that must be followed. Modifications can be requested in Family Court at a later date.
Can Mediation Stop Child Support?
Being scheduled for and attending parenting plan and child support mediation does not end or postpone child support. Washington state is very clear on the law regarding child support and how it is handled. Child support is to be issued fairly to the parent with which the child spends most of their time. There is an online Washington State child support calculator that can help parents, attorneys, and mediators estimate the fair amount to be paid if the parents cannot agree. This formula is similar to the calculation used to determine the amount that will ultimately be ordered.
If parents wish to waive child support, specific criteria must be met. Actual shared custody must be agreed to so that child support can be waived. This is done if the parents agree to no child support, have shown that they can co-parent, live close enough to each other that the child won't face unneeded or excessive changes or hardship, and that actual shared custody is best for the child. However, even if the parents agree to shared custody, Washington State Family Court must approve waiving child support. The objective, as always, is to ensure that doing so is genuinely in the best interest of the child.
While this is an option, it is extremely rare. Everything must be amicable. All parties involved, including the Family Court where your matter is filed, must agree and show they can handle the agreement.
Free Consultation: Child Support Mediation Questions
If child support is going to become part of your life or you have questions about how meditation impacts child support decisions, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers. Ms. Struthers is a skilled and experienced lawyer and is certified in mediation. Ms. Struthers assists her clients in forming parenting plans that are in the best interest of their children. She listens to her clients and aids them in effectively solving their child support and custody disputes. Contact her office today for your free initial consultation. She is ready to help you.
Disclaimer: This publication is not legal advice. It is intended as legal information only. For legal advice specific to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, PS at 800-972-0411.
Posted November 2022.