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In Washington and elsewhere, a child support order that is issued by the court following a divorce details mandatory payments that must be made by the non-custodial parent for the care and maintenance of a child. This amount is most often determined by the income history of the parents and the number of children in a family. The child support payments continue until the child reaches a certain age.

Despite the fact that the non-custodial parent is under a court order to make the child support payments, there are times that they are unable to pay for various reasons. This has been especially true during the difficult economic conditions in place over the past few years. Lost jobs, high mortgage payments and other financial difficulties can contribute to a non-custodial parent's inability to pay.

When child support funds do not come each month, the custodial parent can find themselves facing hardships. The money needed for the basic needs of the child can be difficult for a custodial parent to replace. For some parents, a barter system may work for the short term to cover some expenses with less affect on the child. Using this type of agreement, a non-custodial parent who cannot pay the required child support may be able to provide maintenance on the home of the child or the family car, for example. Providing services that will aid the custodial parent and children can ease the burden until payments can resume.

It is important to note that the child support payments and the amount owed do not change as a result of an agreement by the custodial parent to accept barter. Only a court order can make such a change, and only after the appropriate steps have been taken. Washington parents in a difficult child support situation may find that they need additional, more experienced support as they work toward a reviewed or revised agreement. It is best to remember that child support agreements should be manageable, reasonable, and most importantly, best for the child.