When can child support orders be modified?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2022 | Divorce

Even though you and your spouse split up several years ago and reached an agreement on child support, circumstances can change. One of you may have lost your job in Washington, or maybe you have remarried. Some situations call for a modification in child support, but to change the agreement, you must go through a specific process.

Educate yourself so you understand the law

Only local courts can make child support and other divorce agreement modifications Familiarize yourself with family law pertaining to post-divorce modifications, so you understand what the term “substantial change in circumstances” means and if your particular situation fits that definition. If you are the parent paying child support, have lost your job and know you’ll have difficulty keeping up with payments, act as quickly as possible to attempt a modification. Try to keep up your payments as best you can, as missed child support payments cannot be discharged if you go through bankruptcy and usually cannot be reduced retroactively.

Attempt to reach an agreement with the other parent

Documenting your situation will help your request for modified child support payments. Medical disability, in addition to lost employment, is a valid reason to request a modification. Attempting to reach an agreement before you head to court with your former spouse on reduced payments will make the process easier, but note that you will have to formalize the agreement before a judge.

Modifications can arise at anytime

Divorce agreements are never permanently set in stone. It is in your best interests to attempt to pay your child support obligations. Conversely, you may be asked to pay more in support if you come into a windfall, like a job with significantly higher pay and your former spouse is struggling.

Modifications can occur more than once. If you petition to reduce your child support payments, your new agreement may require you to increase them once you are gainfully employed again. Being realistic and truthful about your situation instead of dodging payments with no explanation will keep you in good stead with the law.