After a child support order is entered, it is not uncommon for one or both parents to later want to reexamine the child support amount. As a child’s needs change or a parent’s income changes, a modification of a child support order may be appropriate or necessary. In Washington, strict requirements exist as to when such a request may be made with the court and in what way. Before filing a child support modification case with the court, you first should look at your child support order to see if there is a Periodic Adjustment paragraph. If there is such a paragraph, there will be instructions as to when child support typically can be adjusted.
A motion to adjust child support is not the same as a petition to modify child support. A motion has some advantages over filing a petition. The greatest advantage is that the hearing may be held with less notice to the other parent, meaning that the case may be over faster. However, you can file a motion to modify (versus adjust) child support if your current child support order gives you permission to do so. As a matter of “right,” you are entitled to file a petition to modify child support every two years.
Regardless of whether a parent files a motion to adjust support or a petition to modify support, the court often considers the same factors, some of which are as follows:
- Increase or decrease in a parent’s income;
- At least one of the children has turned 12;
- The child support order causes a parent “severe economic hardship;”
- A parent wants the other parent to pay support past the age of 18, until the child finishes high school (assuming that the child support order does not account for this);
- A parent wants the other parent to help with college; and
- Other factors, such as a “substantial change in the circumstances” of either the parents or the children. These sorts of changes could include a severe and/or permanent injury, incarceration, or a permanent change in the child’s needs.
If you have questions about whether it is the right time for you to have a child support adjustment or modification, call us today at (253) 272-9459. We can help you review your current child support order and decide upon the best option for you