Child Support Modifications

Under RCW 26.09.170(7)(a), child support may, and due to the changing circumstances of the parent’s employment and incomes over time, should be adjusted ever two years. If more than 24 months has passed since support was last adjusted or modified, neither parent has to show any reason for the modification.

Under RCW 26.09.170(5)(a), a parent may petition the court to modify support at any time, based upon a substantial change in circumstances. This provision allows for a change in support due to an event happening shortly after a support order is entered that significantly impacts a parent’s ability to pay support or need for support.

Under RCW 26.09.170(1)(b), a court may modify a maintenance or support obligation when the moving party demonstrates a substantial change in circumstances occurred that the parties did not contemplate at the time of the initial dissolution decree or support order.

The term “change in circumstances” generally refers to the obligor parent or former spouse’s financial ability to pay while accounting for the other parent or former spouse’s necessities. Without a showing of changed circumstances to justify modification, a child support order must typically be enforced in accordance with its terms.

Back to top

Attorney for Modification of Child Support in Seattle, WA

When a parent wants an upward or downward modification or deviation of their original child support award, the request must be based on a “substantial change” in circumstances, and must be supported by evidence to support the deviation. The family law attorneys in Seattle at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson can help you determine what the court might do. Our attorneys can help you file the petition or oppose this type of petition if you don’t think the change is warranted.

Our attorneys are experienced in other types of modification cases to change a parenting plan or change an award for maintenance or alimony. For any type of post-decree modification case in Seattle or Kent in King County, WA, contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson.

Call (206) 712-2756 to schedule a consultation to discuss the case.

Back to top

Grounds for a Modification of Child Support under Washington Law

RCW 26.09.170 provides a list of several different grounds for modification that do not require a substantial change in circumstances. Those circumstances listed in RCW 26.09.170 include:

  • a substantial change in circumstances based on the children entering into a new age category;
  • a substantial change in circumstances based on the children’s significantly increased expenses;
  • severe economic hardship; or
  • change in income.

RCW 26.09.170(5)(b) states that “[a]n obligor’s voluntary unemployment or voluntary underemployment, by itself, is not a substantial change of circumstances.”

If a case does not fit within one of those exceptions, then a substantial change in circumstances must be shown under RCW 26.09.170 (1). Additionally, a few of the non-statutory circumstances that allow a child support order to be modified without a substantial change of circumstances include:

  • After a default order is entered, one party can request a “de novo hearing” to determine the amount of support previously awarded;
  • If the court failed to review an agreed order to see it was reasonable, the one party can request a modification of that award.
Back to top