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District of Columbia child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this District of Columbia child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Child Support determined in D.C.?

In D.C., either parent may be ordered to provide child support during and after the divorce process. There are official Child Support Guidelines that describe the amounts to be paid based on a percentage of the income of the paying parent. These guidelines are designed to be in the best interests of the child and will be followed unless the parents have an agreement approved by the court. Any other relevant factors that would make these guidelines unjust will be considered.

The following percentages of the net income of the paying parent are what the D.C. child support guidelines are based on:

No of Children

Ages

Percentage of Income

1 child

0-6

20 - 23% depending on the level of income

1 child

7-12

22 - 25.3% depending on the level of income

1 child

13-21

23 - 26.45% depending on the level of income

2 children

0-6

26 - 29% depending on the level of income

2 children

7-12

28.6 - 31.9% depending on the level of income

2 children

13-21

29.9 - 33.5% depending on the level of income

3 children

0-6

30 - 33% depending on the level of income

3 children

7-12

33 - 36.3% depending on the level of income

3 children

13-21

34.5 - 37.95% depending on the level of income

4+ children

0-6

32 - 35% depending on the level of income

4+ children

7-12

35.2 - 38.5% depending on the level of income

4+ children

13-21

36.8 - 40.25% depending on level of income

At what age does child support payments end?

When the child is age 21.

District of Columbia's custody guidelines:

Yes. Joint or sole custody may be awarded during or after the divorce process by the D.C. courts. The decision will be made without regard to the parents’ sex, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin or political affiliations. The court will consider the best interests of the child as determined by applying the following factors:

  • the wishes of the child and the wishes of the parents
  • the child's adjustment to school, home and community settings
  • the mental and physical health of all involved
  • the child's interaction with all significant family members
  • the willingness of the parents to share custody and major decisions
  • the prior involvement of each parent with the child
  • issues/proximity of each parent as they relate to the practical consideration of the child's residential schedule
  • sincerity of the parents' requests
  • the age and the number of children involved
  • the demands of the parents jobs
  • resulting welfare status
  • evidence of abuse by either parent
  • financial capabilities
  • benefits to the parties involved

In D.C., the courts presume that joint custody is best, unless determined otherwise. Also, the courts may order the parents to submit a written parenting plan for custody.

District of Columbia's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If a reasonable medical insurance plan is available through one of the parent's employment, they may be required to cover their child on it.

How permanent are the provisions for District of Columbia child support and custody?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Most all U.S. states, including the District of Columbia (D. C.), has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been
ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

The current thinking or national trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

In D.C., joint custody is presumed to be in the best interest of the child, if both parents have agreed to it and it appears reasonable for the situation. But this presumption can be rebutted.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While it is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How District of Columbia determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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