Child support orders are based on calculations involving the income and qualified expenses of each parent and a specific schedule set out by state law.1 However, as we all know, income and expenses can change significantly over time. If one or both parents experience such a change before the child reaches age 18, the existing child support order may no longer be fair or appropriate. In such cases, a parent can petition the court2 to modify the existing order.
When will a modification be granted?
Courts will not simply grant modifications any time they are requested, however, or based on minor changes in a parent’s situation. If they did, the family courts would be constantly filled with cases based on small changes in income that do not necessarily warrant an adjustment to the child support order. Instead, the law3 requires that a parent show that a “substantial change in circumstances” has occurred.
Some situations that may qualify as a substantial change in circumstances include the following:
- Loss of job and inability to find a comparable job
- Serious injury, illness, or other disability
- Remarriage that increased the household income or divorce that decreased the household income
- Illness or new special needs of the child
There are only a few examples of changes that may be considered “substantial.” Note that a change in income must be involuntary, as you cannot choose to stop working without a good reason or choose a lower-paying job simply to have a child support order modified. You must show that there was good reason for the change or it was beyond your control.
Contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your case today
If you have a child support order that you believe is no longer appropriate and wish to modify, your first call should be to an experienced child custody modification lawyer in Seattle or Tacoma. At the Dickson Frohlich Phillips Burgess, our attorneys are thoroughly familiar with how child support modifications work in Washington and how to convince a court that your circumstances have significantly changed enough to warrant modification.
CALL ONE OF OUR OFFICES TODAY AT (206) 621-1110 OR (253) 572-1000 FOR HELP.