Washington courts base child support orders on parties’ living and financial situations at the time that they enter the orders. If your situation changes, you may petition a court to modify an order.
When you are no longer able to comply with a child support order, it is imperative that you seek a modification rather than simply stop paying. Do not rely on a verbal authorization from your former spouse to change or suspend payments. Your former spouse’s consent to a modification may be helpful in getting a court to change an order. However, you must still go through the court to modify a support order based on a change in circumstances.
Changes in custody
If your children are spending more time with you than before, your child care expenses have probably increased. When you suddenly have more financial responsibility in caring for your children, you may be able to pay less support to your former spouse.
Decrease in income
Washington’s child support worksheet weighs your income heavily in determining how much support you have to pay. A job loss, reduced hours, or a new job that pays less wages may mean that you are not able to pay as much child support as you once did. You may petition a court to modify your support order due to the fact that you now receive less income.
Ultimately, you should get help from a court when a change in circumstances affects your ability to make your child support payments. You should start the process as early as possible to avoid defaulting on an order.