As life progresses after a child support order is issued by the court, circumstances can change in a variety of ways. Whether the change in circumstances is significant or minor, either parent in a child custody situation may encounter a scenario where they believe change in child support is necessary. These parents have multiple paths in which they can make a request for a change in child support.
Let’s explore some of the common options that are available, and the circumstances that have to be taken into consideration.
It is possible for either parent to request a change to child support in the first year of the order being issued. If the request is being made in this timeframe, either parent must show a substantial change in circumstances. Some examples of substantial changes include the birth of a new child, getting a raise, getting fired or laid off, or other changes that the court may deem substantial.
It is important to note that changes in income are analyzed closely by the court. For a closer look at the legal language surrounding Washington laws on determining income and child support, review Title 26 Chapter 26.19.071. Additionally, it is important to note that if a parent who is ordered to pay child support is intentionally underemployed, they may be ordered to pay the income that they could be making if they were employed at their skill level. This is known as imputing income.
Either parent may file a motion to request a change to child support after one year. There does not need to be substantial changes in order for this motion to be filed. However, there are some circumstances that must be proven in order for a modification to be issued. Those circumstances are:
- The current order creates financial hardship on either the parent, child, or both.
- The child is no longer in the age category for which the original order is based.
- The child is still in high school but there is a finding that child support must continue beyond the 18th birthday in order for them to complete high school.
The necessary forms are all listed on this Washington judicial website. The first necessary step will be to fill out the correct petition to modify child support. The next step will be to properly serve a summons, copy of the petition, and correct worksheets on the parent who is the subject of the change.
Family law can be a particularly emotional and trying process. On top of the forms and complicated court processes, parents also have to manage the stress that may be created for the children involved. With extensive experience in all aspects of family law, Molly Kenny, Esq., is one of the lawyers in Washington state who may be best suited to help you when it comes to changing your child support order.