When a couple files for divorce and minor children are involved, the court will order a parenting plan as part of the divorce settlement that includes the details of custody and child support. Child support is set when the divorce is finalized, but circumstances for parents and children change over time. In the months or years following a divorce, it may be necessary to modify an existing child support order. At the Hodgson Law Office, our team of experienced family law attorneys is prepared to help you request or defend against a modification for child support in your case. Call or contact the office today to schedule a consultation if you’re wondering about modifying child support.
In Washington state, a child support order can be modified after the order has been in place for at least one year, and a parent can show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the support order was issued. In order to qualify as a substantial change, the circumstances alleged must be permanent, unforeseen at the time the order was issued, and material.
A substantial change in circumstances can be either positive or negative and can result in either an increase or decrease in child support. With a one year modification it must also be shown that the amount of support somehow is creating financial hardship. Beyond this, in Washington State, child support can be reviewed every two years without a change in circumstance.
There are many reasons why a court may order a modification in child support based on a substantial change in circumstances. One of the most common reasons for a modification occurs when a parent loses a job, but a significant pay raise and promotion is another reason for a modification. If the parent paying child support becomes seriously ill, it may warrant a modification in child support, and it may also be modified if a child gets sick. This is particularly important now as the COVID-19 pandemic affects people of all ages in Washington state.
It is also important to point out circumstances that may not warrant a modification in child support payments. A temporary decrease in working hours or pay is not usually enough to warrant a modification in child support. Willfully remaining unemployed in order to avoid child support payments also does not constitute a substantial change in circumstances. One-time expenses for a child, such as payment for a summer camp, also do not usually qualify for a modification in support, although new ongoing expenses like orthodontia bills often do meet the qualifications for a substantial change in circumstances. To learn more about whether the specifics of your case may permit a modification in child support for your family, talk to a knowledgeable family law attorney today.
If there has been a substantial change in circumstances in your family since your divorce, you or your former spouse may have a claim for a modification of child support. To learn more about your legal options, call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Washington family law attorneys at the Hodgson Law Office in Spokane.