Family Law: Child Support Modification

The Order of Child Support can be adjusted through a child support modification procedure if there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the parents or the child. Some examples include when one or both parents’ income has substantially increased or decreased; if the child now spends a greater amount of time with one or the other parent; or if the child has special needs, including special schooling or medical care.

Filing for modification of child support requires filling out the mandatory forms, serving copies on the other parent, filing them with the Court and receiving a trial schedule. If the other parent is receiving welfare benefits, the County Prosecuting Attorney must be served as well. In King County, a trial is scheduled in about 4 months. It is a trial by affidavit, meaning that there is usually no oral testimony, it is all submitted in writing in advance, with oral argument by the attorneys. The court has the ability to modify child support retroactive to the date of filing the action.

The statues also provide for an adjustment of child support every two years. This is a more simplified process (you can have a hearing in only 2 weeks), however you can only adjust the amount of support, not modify any of the other provisions of the Order.

If your Order of Child Support is registered with the State Division of Child Support and at least three years have passed since it was entered, the State will assist you in getting child support modified administratively at no charge to you. However, this process takes much longer than doing it on your own.

You must provide proof of your income. This proof includes your last two income tax returns, six months pay stubs, and bank records.

If both parties agree and the Order meets the State mandatory schedules, they can get the Order of Child Support approved by a judge without the need of a contested hearing. If they do not agree, the case will go to trial and a judge will decide. The procedures for setting a trial vary from county to county. In King County, a trial by affidavit is automatically scheduled about 4 months after the date of filing.

The legislature amended the statute regarding child support, effective October 1, 2009. Some of the changes to the child support calculations are as follows:

  • The Child Support Schedules start at combined net income of $1,000 instead of $600
  • The Child Support Schedules continue to a combined net income of $12,000, instead of stopping at $5,000 (presumptive) and $7,000 (advisory).
  • Some overtime and 2nd job income can be excluded from income.
  • The deduction for retirement contributions from gross income is increased from $2,000 to $5,000 per year
  • The method of determining income to be imputed to a parent when records are lacking has been expanded in a hierarchy.
  • Health care costs (to be shared) have been defined, and the 5% monthly threshold has been eliminated.
  • The minimum support payment has been increased from $25 per child per month to $50 per child per month.

This could have a significant effect on many Child Support Orders, increasing the amounts that will be due in the State of Washington. If you would like to have your child support order reviewed to determine the amount of child support under the new laws, please call our office.