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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Family Law Attorney
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What is the average for child support in Alaska vs. washington?

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What is the average for child support in Alaska vs. washington? What about spousal support? My husband and I are divorcing and I need to know which state is more beneficial for filing. We are WA residents but currently stationed in AK.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
Hello there:

Thank you for entrusting me with your question. There are a lot of factors involved. How much do you and your spouse each earn? How many kids are there and how old are they? How long have you been married? What do you expect the custody/visitation schedule to look like?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We have been married 15 years and have 3 girls ages 10, 12, and 14. I'm 35 and he's 34. He takes home approx. 7,000 a month and has been in the US coast guard for 15 years. I take home 1500 a month and work as the administrative asst. for Ketchikan Charter School. I've worked there for 5 years after being a stay at home for the first 10 years of marriage.
I have agreed to move to Seattle, wa when he transfers in June so our girls can be near their dad however I expect to have primary custody as he is active duty. We've agreed that the girls will live with me and he will have visitation whenever he likes as his schedule allows ( he will be stationed on a boat and out for 3 months at a time ). Currently his boat is out for about a week at a time about 50% of the year.
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
By federal law, every state has a guideline child support formula, so estimating the child support obligations under each state's laws is relatively easy. You would just need to use the formulas.

Washington has a calculator where you can just input the variables, and it can be found here:

Alaska also has an online calculator, which can be found here:

Spousal support is much more of a moving target, and it is much more subjective. Neither Washington nor Alaska has a spousal support formula, but they have factors of consideration.

In Alaska, pursuant to Alaska Dissolution Statutes Sections 25-24-165, 25.24.230, the court considers (1) the length of the marriage and station in life of the parties during the marriage; (2) the age and health of the parties; (3) the earning capacity of the parties, including their educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage; (4) the financial condition of the parties, including the availability and cost of health insurance; (5) the marital conduct of the parties, including whether there has been unreasonable depletion of marital assets; (6) the distribution of property and (7) other factors the court determines to be relevant in each individual case.

In Washington, spousal support is determined at the discretion of the court based on consideration of the factors enumerated in Washington Revised Code 26.09.090. That section, in part, provides:

The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to misconduct, after considering all relevant factors including but not limited to:

(a) The financial resources of the party seeking maintenance, including separate or community property apportioned to him or her, and his or her ability to meet his or her needs independently, including the extent to which a provision for support of a child living with the party includes a sum for that party;

(b) The time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find employment appropriate to his or her skill, interests, style of life, and other attendant circumstances;

(c) The standard of living established during the marriage or domestic partnership;

(d) The duration of the marriage or domestic partnership;

(e) The age, physical and emotional condition, and financial obligations of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance; and

(f) The ability of the spouse or domestic partner from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs and financial obligations while meeting those of the spouse or domestic partner seeking maintenance.

So, in each case, the court can basically order support according to whatever it believes is appropriate for the circumstances; ironically, this makes the typical result for any given case more similar than different.

I mentioned that there is no formula, however, I have a formula that I use to make a crude estimate of what to expect. Just to be clear, any estimate that I give is crude because the aforementioned factors must be examined, particularly the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. My disclaimer is that this "estimate" is informational only and should not be used for the purpose of reaching a final determination.

That said, to make a good guess, the formula that I usually use is this:

((Monthly gross income of Husband) - (Monthly gross income of Wife) - (Husband's monthly child support obligation X 1.25)) X 0.3 = (Husband's monthly spousal support obligation).

For a 15 year marriage, support would typically continue for at least a decade.

So the main variable is the child support obligation and that can be computed with relative precision using the online calculators.

Let me know if further clarification is needed. Also, please feel free to ask me another question – if you’re a subscriber, you can do so at no additional cost beyond your monthly payment. Please bookmark my profile page here so you can come back and ask me a question anytime: Thank you.
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