In Washington, provisions in "final" child support orders can be modified or adjusted. The same is true for "final" parenting plans. Such changes, however, cannot be made in final orders regarding most property awards or debt allocations entered in divorce or legal separation matters. The following discusses modification and adjustment of final child support orders.
There are two ways for most parents to change a final child support order, either by a Petition to Modify Child Support, or a Motion for Adjustment of Child Support.
A parent can file a Petition to Modify a final child support order at any time upon a showing of substantially changed circumstances. However, a substantial change in circumstances cannot be a voluntary change by itself, such as voluntary unemployment or voluntary underemployment.
Alternatively, a Petition to Modify a final child support order can be filed without showing of a substantially changed circumstance, if one year has passed since the final order was entered, and if one of the following requirements is present:
(1) If the order in practice works a severe economic hardship on either party of the child;
(2) If a party requests an adjustment in an order for child support which was based on guidelines which determined the amount of support according to the child’s age, and the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based;
(3) If a child is still in high school, upon a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school; or
(4) To add an automatic adjustment of support provision consistent with RCW 26.09.100.
A parent can also file a Motion for Adjustment of child support after 24 months have passed from the date of the entry of the support order (or the last adjustment or modification, whichever is later), without showing a substantial change in circumstances, if one of the following has occurred:
(1) Changes in the income of the parents; or
(2) Changes in the economic table or standards in chapter 26.19 RCW.
Deciding which avenue to pursue, filing a Petition to Modify Child Support or filing a Motion for Adjustment of Child Support, requires detailed factual and legal analysis and should be undertaken upon consultation with competent family law counsel well versed in child support laws.
Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have decades of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law and child support actions and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your case.
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