The amount of child support that noncustodial parents are required to pay is determined by their income and the age and needs of the child. In Washington, the income of the custodial parent is also taken into consideration. Child support orders prevent children from becoming burdens on the state, but they may be modified from time to time if the circumstances of either parent change significantly. Requests to modify child support are often granted when a parent loses their job, receives a pay raise or develops a medical condition that requires ongoing and costly treatment.
Modifying administrative orders
The requirement to pay child support in Washington can be established by either an administrative or Superior Court order. If child support payments are based on an administrative order, noncustodial or custodial parents seeking a modification must submit a request in writing to the Division of Child Support or ask the agency for a form known as a Petition for Modification-Administrative. The submitted paperwork should include a reason for changing the existing amount and a suggested new amount.
Modifying Superior Court orders
The process for modifying child support payments based on a Superior Court order is a little more complex. Parents seeking a modification must make their request to a county prosecutor’s office. The paperwork needed can be downloaded from the Superior Court website or sent by mail. Once the documents and supporting materials, such as pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements, are received, the DCS conducts a review to determine whether or not a modification is warranted. If the facts suggest that a modification should be approved, an impartial prosecutor is assigned to monitor the case.
Legal assistance with child support modifications
Family law attorneys with experience in divorce and child support cases could help parents to navigate the modification process if their or their children’s financial situation has changed. Attorneys could ensure that modification paperwork contains all of the required information and is submitted with the necessary supporting documents. Attorneys may also draft responses to child modification requests and advocate on behalf of parents during subsequent hearings.