Once a family has a legal child support order in Washington state, a parent can request a change in the support amount only under certain circumstances. A support modification may be in order in the case of a job change, custody change or the birth of a sibling. 

Explore the factors involved in seeking Washington child support modification. 

Modifying a court order 

Child support requires a court order in most divorce and paternity cases. To request a modification for this type of order, the parent must complete a Child Support Review Request packet. This requires supporting documents including financial records, pay stubs and tax documents. The Department of Child Services will determine whether the case is eligible for modification. When modification receives initial approval from DCS, an assigned prosecutor will guide the case through family court. 

Modifying an administrative order 

If the parent who pays support received legal Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility from the Department of Human Services or had a phone hearing with the agency during the initial support establishment process, an administrative order governs the case. To modify this type of order, the parent must complete a Petition for Modification and provide information about why the court should change the support amount. The parents receive an opportunity to agree on a fair support amount, and a DHS hearing will occur if they are unable to do so. 

Receiving approval for modification 

In either case, modification approval depends on the state’s Child Support Guidelines. This establishes an average support amount based on the number and age of the children and the combined gross income of both parents. The court also accounts for the medical and daycare costs for the child. If neither parents’ financial information has significantly changed since the original child support order, approval is unlikely. On the other hand, job loss, a major shift in custody or a change in the costs required to raise the child can support the need for modification.