When Can You Modify a Child Support Order?

By August 20, 2019Family Law

Parents must support their children, so most divorces involve a judge issuing a child support order. This order will state how much you must pay to the custodial parent each month. However, life rarely stands still, and many people find that the original child support order is no longer working for them. What can you do?

Fortunately, you can request a modification of the child support order in many cases, but you need a Tacoma divorce attorney to help you.

Substantial Change in Circumstances: Recent Child Support Orders

Judges are not anxious to change child support orders, especially recent ones. RCW 26.09.170 is the main modification statute. It states that if your child support order is less than a year old, you will need to show a substantial change in circumstances. Typically, this involves an involuntary drop in income. For example:

  • Your hours were involuntarily reduced at work
  • You were laid off from your job
  • You became sick or injured and can no longer work

It is not sufficient to quit your job or decide that you want to save money to buy a new car and request a modification. The drop in income should be against your will.

There are other reasons that can satisfy the substantial change in circumstances:

  • Either parent can request a modification if the other gets a big raise and makes more money.
  • Either parent can request a modification if there is a change in parenting time, i.e., the children are spending much more time with one parent.
  • Your child’s needs change dramatically. For example, he or she could become disabled or sick and require much more medical care, or your child’s educational needs increase substantially.

Modification after the Passage of One Year

If it has been more than a year since the judge entered the child support order, you can request a modification without showing a substantial change in circumstances. There are some common reasons:

  • Your child has turned 18 but you need continuing support
  • The child support payments are an undue financial burden on the parent paying child support
  • The child has grown older and the basis for child support has changed

Filing Paperwork

You should work closely with a Tacoma divorce attorney to figure out the best approach for requesting a modification. To modify child support, you will file either:

  • Motion for Adjustment of Child Support
  • Petition to Modify Child Support Order

An attorney can help you identify which one to file and can draft the paperwork for you.

Consult with Alliance Law Group Today

Our Tacoma divorce attorneys have helped many people lower or increase their child support, depending on their needs. We are eager to help you and will meet to discuss your options. Judges look at modification requests very closely, so you should do everything you can to put your best foot forward. We can help.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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