It’s possible, but you will have to act quickly. Once the court has your basic support obligation, you will have a much harder time getting the court to lower your payments based on your financial situation. If you are able to show that your financial circumstances do not allow for the basic amount of child support, your payments may be set at a rate that you are able to afford.

How Low-Income Parents in Washington Can Lower Their Child Support Payments

By law, the court must order a support amount that is less than the basic support obligation if a parent is considered “very low income.” Here are a few examples of when your support should be lowered:

  • If paying a basic support payment would reduce your income below the federal poverty line. If a basic support order would put you below the poverty line, you may only be asked to pay up to $50 per month per child.
  • If your calculated child support amount is more than 45 percent of your income. The law requires that your total support payments be less than 45 percent of your after-tax income.

Non-custodial parents should note: under Washington law, if you and your ex-spouse’s combined income is over $12,000, you may not be able to use the basic support obligation.

How Can I Tell If I Qualify for These Exceptions?

There are many ways to get help with your child support schedule. The child support worksheets offered by the Division of Child Support (DCS) can help you determine which situations apply to you. You can click the contact link on this page to ask us a question about your estimated payments and you can also order a copy of our free divorce guide, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Divorce in Washington.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington