A parent who either pays or receives child support can ask the court to change the child support order in certain circumstances. If the child support order is less than one year old, the parent must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in order to get a child support modification. If the child support order is more than one year old, then the parent can get a modification without showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in some situations, as follows:
• The current child support order is a severe economic hardship on either parent or the child.
• The support order was based on guidelines that set support according to a child’s age, and the child is no longer in the age category that was used to calculate the support amount.
• The child turns 18 but needs continued child support because he or she is still in high school.
• One or both parents want to add a provision to the child support order that calls for automatic adjustments.
Furthermore, if the child support is more than 24 months old, the parent can modify the support amount without showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances in some situations, as follows:
• There have been changes in the income of the parents.
• There have been changes to the economic table or standards used to calculate child support under Washington law.
Losing one’s job certainly can be a substantial change in circumstances that might justify a modification of your child support order, since child support is calculated based on both parents’ incomes. However, whether a modification is appropriate, at least in part, depends on the reason that you became unemployed. For instance, the fact that you voluntarily quit your job because you disliked it or had an argument with your boss is not a substantial change in circumstances that automatically would justify a child support modification. Likewise, getting terminated from a job because you were late and missed too many days of work probably doesn’t amount to a substantial change in circumstances.
On the other hand, being laid off from a job due to a reduction in force or the closure of a business is likely to constitute a substantial change in circumstances. If the unemployment or underemployment is involuntary, the parent should not be penalized for a situation that is beyond his or her control.
Pacific Northwest Family Law knows how to handle all of the different issues that Washington child support cases involve, including modifications. We understand how stressful these types of cases can be, which is why we are here to help guide you through your child support proceedings as simply and efficiently as possible. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment with one of our Washington child support lawyers and see what we can do to help with your case.