In an atrocious economy such as the one we’re all living with right now, don’t expect the divorce & custody industry to take a step back and do what it is right.  No, in this economy, the state of Washington has just revised their child support statutes via the “ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1794” which was passed unanimously by both the State House and State Senate.

According to the provisions of the new guidelines, the revisions modify child support upward across many categories.  This is an alarming trend that shows that there is very little that will stop the divorce and family court industry from maximizing their income on the backs of primarily low wage-earning parents.  Not an abysmal economy, not the highest unemployment we’ve seen in decades, not stagnant wages – nothing appears to be of concern when there are Title IV-d dollars to be had.

As usual, the empty phrase “the best interests of the children” is used as a shield to justify an increase in child support calculations across the state.

Some alarming details from the law:

Before determining whether to apply the 45 percent limitation, the court must consider whether it would be unjust to apply the limitation after considering the best interest of the child or children and the circumstances of each parent, such as whether application of the limitation would leave insufficient funds in the custodial parent’s household to meet the basic needs of the child or children, comparative hardship to the affected households, assets or liabilities, and any involuntary limits on either parent’s earning capacity including incarceration, disabilities, or incapacity.

Now, a judge can simply decide of his own accord whether or not the “children” simply need more money and the non-custodial parent, already on the hook for nearly 45% of his (usually) household income can now have even more taken. The lack of logic is shocking because it would seem that if you’re taking more money from the non-custodial parent to prop up the parent with primary custody, you’re reducing what is likely already insufficient funds for the non-custodial parent to care for the children when they are with him.  Literally, that provision would allow someone who is irresponsible with their money and simply over-extended to get more money from the NCP if the NCP isn’t comparatively compromised.  Alarming.

We suppose that this never crossed the minds of the Washington state legislature.

This provision used to allow an exception to the 45% rule for…

Good cause includes but is not limited to possession of substantial wealth, children with day care expenses, special medical need, educational need, psychological need, and larger families.

Now, having substantial wealth might seem a fair enough reason to exceed 45% of one’s employment income.  This part remains a part of the law and is very  broadly extended with the previously highlighted excerpt.  Now, if a judge determines that the custodial parent has a greater need for more of the non-custodial parent’s cash – the judge can simply take it.

In this law, the state has even added a provision to circumvent the self-support reserve (SSI, set at 125% of the federal poverty line) for the very same reasons highlighted above.  Therefore, a father living on the brink of the poverty line can be shoved below it simply because the custodial parent has a need for more of his hard-earned cash, perhaps because she can’t keep up with payments on her assets.

They’ve done all of this right in the middle of our worst economy in recent history.  What a shame for the non-custodial parents in Washington State.  Well, at least they tell everyone it’s in the best interests of the children.  That makes it all better.  Doesn’t it?  It’s outrageous.

To review the law and it’s revisions, click here: Washington State Revised Child Support Statutes, effective 10/1/2009.

You can also read our recent article about other methods states are using to turn child support payors into slaves for the state, click here: GA: Child Custody Employment Programs – Making Fathers State’s Slaves?