Child support needs in Washington State can change with growing children’s needs and parents’ circumstances. Therefore, Washington State allows for the modification of child support orders to accommodate the prevailing conditions.
Grounds on which the courts allow for support order modification
When creating the first child support order, the court must consider the income and earning potential of both parents. It must also consider the interests of the children in question. If there has been a notable change in those circumstances after the order, it may warrant a review of the child support arrangement. The common grounds for modification are:
• A substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s income
• The loss of a job by either parent
• An increase in the cost of living
• A change in custody arrangements
• When the child’s needs change, e.g., they develop a chronic health condition
How to change the child support order
Child support modifications can either occur through litigation or outside the court. If you and the other parent can agree on the updated terms, you can submit a stipulation to the court for approval. If not, you will have to file a petition and serve it to the other parent, who will then have an opportunity to respond. The court will then hold a hearing where both sides can present their cases before a judge decides.
Laws that might affect you in Washington
There is a law known as the “anti-modification rule.” It states that if either parent was not employed when the original order was made, modifications might only be allowed after they have been employed for at least one year. In addition, income withholding orders are also common in Washington State. This means employers will deduct child support payments from the paying parent’s paycheck and send it directly to the other parent or the state disbursement unit.
Modifying a child support order in Washington State is possible if there is a compelling need. Therefore, if your circumstances change, say you lose your job, it’s best to act quickly to modify the original order than to wait for things to get better. The law is profoundly serious about making these payments. A person may end up in prison for failing to pay what’s required.