SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5996
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1991 1st Special Session
By Senate Committee on Law & Justice (originally sponsored by Senators Nelson, Rasmussen and Johnson).
Read first time June 24, 1991.
AN ACT Relating to child support; amending RCW 26.09.010, 26.09.100, 26.09.170, 26.09.225, and 26.19.090; adding new sections to chapter 26.19 RCW; creating a new section; repealing RCW 26.19.010, 26.19.040, 26.19.060, 26.19.070, and 26.19.110; providing effective dates; and declaring an emergency.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 26.09.010 and 1989 c 375 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Except as otherwise specifically provided herein, the practice in civil action shall govern all proceedings under this chapter, except that trial by jury is dispensed with.
proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation or a declaration
concerning the validity of a marriage shall be entitled "In re the
marriage of .......... and ..........." Such proceeding ((
be filed in the superior court of the county where the petitioner or
respondent resides. Upon motion and hearing before the superior court
of the county where the proceeding is filed, the court may waive venue in that
county for good cause shown.
(3) In cases where there has been no prior proceeding in this state involving the marital status of the parties or support obligations for a minor child, a separate parenting and support proceeding between the parents shall be entitled "In re the parenting and support of ..........." Such proceeding shall be filed in the superior court of the county where the petitioner or respondent resides. Upon motion and hearing before the superior court of the county where the proceeding is filed, the court may waive venue in that county for good cause shown.
(4) The initial pleading in all proceedings under this chapter shall be denominated a petition. A responsive pleading shall be denominated a response. Other pleadings, and all pleadings in other matters under this chapter shall be denominated as provided in the civil rules for superior court.
(5) In this chapter, "decree" includes "judgment".
(6) A decree of dissolution, of legal separation, or a declaration concerning the validity of a marriage shall not be awarded to one of the parties, but shall provide that it affects the status previously existing between the parties in the manner decreed.
Sec. 2. RCW 26.09.100 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, declaration of invalidity, maintenance, or child support, after considering all relevant factors but without regard to marital misconduct, the court shall order either or both parents owing a duty of support to any child of the marriage dependent upon either or both spouses to pay an amount determined under chapter 26.19 RCW.
(2) The court may require automatic periodic adjustments or modifications of child support. That portion of any decree that requires periodic adjustments or modifications of child support shall use the provisions in chapter 26.19 RCW as the basis for the adjustment or modification. Provisions in the decree for periodic adjustment or modification shall not conflict with RCW 26.09.170 except that the decree may require periodic adjustments or modifications of support more frequently than the time periods established pursuant to RCW 26.09.170.
(3) Upon motion of a party and without a substantial change of circumstances, the court shall declare that portion of a decree that fails to comply with subsection (2) of this section void and shall modify the decree to comply with subsection (2) of this section as to installments accruing subsequent to entry of the court's order on the motion for modification.
(4) The adjustment or modification provision may be modified by the court due to economic hardship consistent with the provisions of RCW 26.09.170(4)(a).
Sec. 3. RCW 26.09.170 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
Except as otherwise provided in subsection (7) of RCW 26.09.070, the provisions
of any decree respecting maintenance or support may be modified only as to
installments accruing subsequent to the motion for modification and, except as
otherwise provided in subsections (4), (5), ((
and)) (8), and (9)
of this section, only upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances.
The provisions as to property disposition may not be revoked or modified,
unless the court finds the existence of conditions that justify the reopening
of a judgment under the laws of this state.
(2) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree the obligation to pay future maintenance is terminated upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.
(3) Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, provisions for the support of a child are terminated by emancipation of the child or by the death of the parent obligated to support the child.
(4) An order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without showing a substantial change of circumstances:
(a) If the order in practice works a severe economic hardship on either party or the child;
(b) If a party requests an adjustment in an order for child support which was based on guidelines which determined the amount of support according to the child's age, and the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based;
(c) If a child is still in high school, upon a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school; or
(d) To add an automatic adjustment of support provision consistent with RCW 26.09.100.
(5) An order or decree entered prior to June 7, 1984, may be modified without showing a substantial change of circumstances if the requested modification is to:
(a) Require health insurance coverage for a child named therein; or
(b) Modify an existing order for health insurance coverage.
(6) An obligor's voluntary unemployment or voluntary underemployment, by itself, is not a substantial change of circumstances.
The department of social and health services may file an action to modify an
order of child support if public assistance money is being paid to or for the
benefit of the child and the child support order is twenty-five percent or more
below the appropriate child support amount set forth in the standard
calculation as defined in ((
section 4(2) of this act)) section 5 of
this act and reasons for the deviation are not set forth in the findings of
fact or order. The determination of twenty-five percent or more shall be based
on the current income of the parties and the department shall not be required
to show a substantial change of circumstances if the reasons for the deviations
were not set forth in the findings of fact or order.
(8)(a) Except as provided in (b) and (c) of this subsection, all child support decrees may be adjusted once every twenty-four months based upon changes in the income of the parents without a showing of substantially changed circumstances. Either party may initiate the modification pursuant to procedures of RCW 26.09.175.
Parents whose decrees are entered before ((
the effective date of this act))
July 1, 1990, may petition the court for a modification after twelve
months has expired from the entry of the decree or the most recent modification
setting child support, whichever is later. However, if a party is granted
relief under this provision, twenty-four months must pass before another
petition for modification may be filed pursuant to (a) of this subsection.
(c) A party may petition for modification in cases of substantially changed circumstances, under subsection (1) of this section, at any time. However, if relief is granted under subsection (1) of this section, twenty-four months must pass before a petition for modification under (a) of this subsection may be filed.
(d) If, pursuant to (a) of this subsection, the court modifies a child support obligation by more than thirty percent and the change would cause significant hardship, the court may implement the change in two equal increments, one at the time of the entry of the order and the second six months from the entry of the order. Twenty-four months must pass following the second change before a petition for modification under (a) of this subsection may be filed.
(e) A parent who is receiving transfer payments who receives a wage or salary increase may not bring a modification action pursuant to (a) of this subsection alleging that increase constitutes a substantial change of circumstances under subsection (1) of this section.
(9) An order of child support may be modified twenty-four months from the date of the entry of the decree or the last modification, whichever is later, based upon changes in the economic table or standards in chapter 26.19 RCW.
Sec. 4. RCW 26.09.225 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 18 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Each parent shall have full and equal access to the education and health care records of the child absent a court order to the contrary. Neither parent may veto the access requested by the other parent.
(2) Educational records include academic, attendance, and disciplinary records of public and private schools in all grades kindergarten through twelve and any form of alternative school for all periods for which child support is paid or the child is the dependent in fact of the parent requesting access to the records.
(3) Educational records of postsecondary educational institutions include enrollment and academic records necessary to determine, establish, or continue support ordered pursuant to RCW 26.19.090.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 5. A new section is added to chapter 26.19 RCW to read as follows:
DEFINITIONS. Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Basic child support obligation" means the monthly child support obligation determined from the economic table based on the parties' combined monthly net income and the number of children for whom support is owed.
(2) "Child support schedule" means the standards, economic table, worksheets, and instructions, as defined in this chapter.
(3) "Court" means a superior court judge, court commissioner, and presiding and reviewing officers who administratively determine or enforce child support orders.
(4) "Deviation" means a child support amount that differs from the standard calculation.
(5) "Economic table" means the child support table for the basic support obligation provided in RCW 26.19.020.
(6) "Instructions" means the instructions developed by the office of the administrator for the courts pursuant to RCW 26.19.050 for use in completing the worksheets.
(7) "Standards" means the standards for determination of child support as provided in this chapter.
(8) "Standard calculation" means the presumptive amount of child support owed as determined from the child support schedule before the court considers any reasons for deviation.
(9) "Support transfer payment" means the amount of money the court orders one parent to pay to another parent or custodian for child support after determination of the standard calculation and deviations. If certain expenses or credits are expected to fluctuate and the order states a formula or percentage to determine the additional amount or credit on an ongoing basis, the term "support transfer payment" does not mean the additional amount or credit.
(10) "Worksheets" means the forms developed by the office of the administrator for the courts pursuant to RCW 26.19.050 for use in determining the amount of child support.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. A new section is added to chapter 26.19 RCW to read as follows:
STANDARDS FOR DETERMINATION OF INCOME. (1) Consideration of all income. All income and resources of each parent's household shall be disclosed and considered by the court when the court determines the child support obligation of each parent. Only the income of the parents of the children whose support is at issue shall be calculated for purposes of calculating the basic support obligation. Income and resources of any other person shall not be included in calculating the basic support obligation.
(2) Verification of income. Tax returns for the preceding two years and current paystubs shall be provided to verify income and deductions. Other sufficient verification shall be required for income and deductions which do not appear on tax returns or paystubs.
(3) Income sources included in gross monthly income. Except as specifically excluded in subsection (4) of this section, monthly gross income shall include income from any source, including:
(d) Deferred compensation;
(f) Contract-related benefits;
(g) Income from second jobs;
(j) Trust income;
(k) Severance pay;
(m) Capital gains;
(n) Pension retirement benefits;
(o) Workers' compensation;
(p) Unemployment benefits;
(q) Spousal maintenance actually received;
(s) Social security benefits; and
(t) Disability insurance benefits.
(4) Income sources excluded from gross monthly income. The following income and resources shall be disclosed but shall not be included in gross income:
(a) Income of a new spouse or income of other adults in the household;
(b) Child support received from other relationships;
(c) Gifts and prizes;
(d) Aid to families with dependent children;
(e) Supplemental security income;
(f) General assistance; and
(g) Food stamps.
Receipt of income and resources from aid to families with dependent children, supplemental security income, general assistance, and food stamps shall not be a reason to deviate from the standard calculation.
(5) Determination of net income. The following expenses shall be disclosed and deducted from gross monthly income to calculate net monthly income:
(a) Federal and state income taxes;
(b) Federal insurance contributions act deductions;
(c) Mandatory pension plan payments;
(d) Mandatory union or professional dues;
(e) State industrial insurance premiums;
(f) Court-ordered spousal maintenance to the extent actually paid;
(g) Up to two thousand dollars per year in voluntary pension payments actually made if the contributions were made for the two tax years preceding the earlier of the (i) tax year in which the parties separated with intent to live separate and apart or (ii) tax year in which the parties filed for dissolution; and
(h) Normal business expenses and self-employment taxes for self-employed persons. Justification shall be required for any business expense deduction about which there is disagreement.
Items deducted from gross income under this subsection shall not be a reason to deviate from the standard calculation.
(6) Imputation of income. The court shall impute income to a parent when the parent is voluntarily unemployed or voluntarily underemployed. The court shall determine whether the parent is voluntarily underemployed or voluntarily unemployed based upon that parent's work history, education, health, and age, or any other relevant factors. A parent will not be deemed underemployed if that parent is gainfully employed on a full-time basis. Income shall not be imputed for an unemployable parent. In the absence of information to the contrary, a parent's imputed income shall be based on the median income of year-round full-time workers as derived from the United States bureau of census, current populations reports, or such replacement report as published by the bureau of census.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 7. A new section is added to chapter 26.19 RCW to read as follows:
STANDARDS FOR DEVIATION FROM THE STANDARD CALCULATION. (1) Reasons for deviation from the standard calculation include but are not limited to the following:
(a) Sources of income and tax planning. The court may deviate from the standard calculation after consideration of the following:
(i) Income of a new spouse if the parent who is married to the new spouse is asking for a deviation based on any other reason. Income of a new spouse is not, by itself, a sufficient reason for deviation;
(ii) Income of other adults in the household if the parent who is living with the other adult is asking for a deviation based on any other reason. Income of the other adults in the household is not, by itself, a sufficient reason for deviation;
(iii) Child support actually received from other relationships;
(vi) Possession of wealth, including but not limited to savings, investments, real estate holdings and business interests, vehicles, boats, pensions, bank accounts, insurance plans, or other assets;
(vii) Extraordinary income of a child; or
(viii) Tax planning considerations. A deviation for tax planning may be granted only if the child would not receive a lesser economic benefit due to the tax planning.
(b) Nonrecurring income. The court may deviate from the standard calculation based on a finding that a particular source of income included in the calculation of the basic support obligation is not a recurring source of income. Depending on the circumstances, nonrecurring income may include overtime, contract-related benefits, bonuses, or income from second jobs. Deviations for nonrecurring income shall be based on a review of the nonrecurring income received in the previous two calendar years.
(c) Debt and high expenses. The court may deviate from the standard calculation after consideration of the following expenses:
(i) Extraordinary debt not voluntarily incurred;
(ii) A significant disparity in the living costs of the parents due to conditions beyond their control;
(iii) Special needs of disabled children; or
(iv) Special medical, educational, or psychological needs of the children.
(d) Residential schedule. The court may deviate from the standard calculation if the child spends a significant amount of time with the parent who is obligated to make a support transfer payment. The court may not deviate on that basis if the deviation will result in insufficient funds in the house receiving the support to meet the basic needs of the child or if the child is receiving aid to families with dependent children. When determining the amount of the deviation, the court shall consider evidence concerning the increased expenses to a parent making support transfer payments resulting from the significant amount of time spent with that parent and shall consider the decreased expenses, if any, to the party receiving the support resulting from the significant amount of time the child spends with the parent making the support transfer payment.
(e) Children from other relationships. The court may deviate from the standard calculation when either or both of the parents before the court have children from other relationships to whom the parent owes a duty of support.
(i) The child support schedule shall be applied to the mother, father, and children of the family before the court to determine the presumptive amount of support.
(ii) Children from other relationships shall not be counted in the number of children for purposes of determining the basic support obligation and the standard calculation.
(iii) When considering a deviation from the standard calculation for children from other relationships, the court may consider only other children to whom the parent owes a duty of support. The court may consider court-ordered payments of child support for children from other relationships only to the extent that the support is actually paid.
(iv) When the court has determined that either or both parents have children from other relationships, deviations under this section shall be based on consideration of the total circumstances of both households. All child support obligations paid, received, and owed for all children shall be disclosed and considered.
(2) All income and resources of the parties before the court, new spouses, and other adults in the households shall be disclosed and considered as provided in this section. The presumptive amount of support shall be determined according to the child support schedule. Unless specific reasons for deviation are set forth in the written findings of fact and are supported by the evidence, the court shall order each parent to pay the amount of support determined by using the standard calculation.
(3) The court shall enter findings that specify reasons for any deviation or any denial of a party's request for any deviation from the standard calculation made by the court. The court shall not consider reasons for deviation until the court determines the standard calculation for each parent.
(4) When reasons exist for deviation, the court shall exercise discretion in considering the extent to which the factors would affect the support obligation.
(5) Agreement of the parties is not by itself adequate reason for any deviations from the standard calculation.
Sec. 8. RCW 26.19.090 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 9 are each amended to read as follows:
STANDARDS FOR POSTSECONDARY EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT AWARDS. (1) The child support schedule shall be advisory and not mandatory for postsecondary educational support.
(2) When considering whether to order support for postsecondary educational expenses, the court shall determine whether the child is in fact dependent and is relying upon the parents for the reasonable necessities of life. The court shall exercise its discretion when determining whether and for how long to award postsecondary educational support based upon consideration of factors that include but are not limited to the following: Age of the child; the child's needs; the expectations of the parties for their children when the parents were together; the child's prospects, desires, aptitudes, abilities or disabilities; the nature of the postsecondary education sought; and the parents' level of education, standard of living, and current and future resources. Also to be considered are the amount and type of support that the child would have been afforded if the parents had stayed together.
The child must be enrolled in an accredited academic or vocational
school, actively pursuing a course of study commensurate with the child's
vocational goals, and must be in good academic standing as defined
by the institution ((
or)). The child shall also make available all
academic records and grades to both parents as a condition of receiving
postsecondary educational support. Each parent shall have full and equal
access to the postsecondary education records as provided in RCW 26.09.225. The
court-ordered postsecondary educational support (( may)) shall be
automatically suspended during the period or periods the child fails to comply
with these conditions. (( The court in its discretion may order that the
payment be made directly to the parent who has been receiving the transfer
payments, to the educational institution if feasible, or to the child.))
The court shall not order the payment of postsecondary educational expenses
beyond the child's twenty-third birthday, except for exceptional circumstances,
such as mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. (4) The court
shall direct that either or both parents' payments for postsecondary
educational expenses be made directly to the educational institution if
feasible. If direct payments are not feasible, then the court in its
discretion may order that either or both parents' payments be made directly to
the child if the child does not reside with either parent. If the child
resides with one of the parents the court may direct that the parent making the
support transfer payments make the payments to the child or to the parent who
has been receiving the support transfer payments.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 9. The following acts or parts of acts are each repealed:
(1) RCW 26.19.010 and 1988 c 275 s 2;
(2) RCW 26.19.040 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 20, 1988 c 275 s 5, & 1987 c 440 s 2;
(3) RCW 26.19.060 and 1988 c 275 s 7;
(4) RCW 26.19.070 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 6; and
(5) RCW 26.19.110 and 1990 1st ex.s. c 2 s 12.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 10. If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the act or the application of the provision to other persons or circumstances is not affected.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 11. (1) Sections 2 through 10 of this act are necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and shall take effect September 1, 1991.
(2) Section 1 of this act shall take effect July 1, 1992.