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Modifying Washington Child Support

WA Child Support Attorney Laurie G. Robertson

How do you modify a Washington Child Support Order (Order of Support)?

Washington child support modifications are primarily initiated pursuant to RCW 26.09.170.  This is the primary Washington child support modification statute. 

Many WA child support modification actions are brought based upon RCW 26.09.170 (9), which allows for an automatic review every 24 months based solely upon changes in the incomes of each parent.

Almost all other Washington child support modifications are initiated by filing a motion requesting that the court review the current Order of Support and modify it based on a substantial change of circumstances.  If you have questions about whether or not you can seek a Washington child support modification based upon a substantial change of circumstances, we invite you to call our offices for an initial consultation.

One of our experienced WA State child support attorneys can review the facts of your case in detail and discuss whether or not we believe the circumstances present are sufficient to meet the substantial change threshold.

Modification or adjustment

Washington Child support may be adjusted every twenty-four months from the date of entry of the last child support order. The Court may also modify a child support order on a showing of a substantial change in circumstances at any time. The child support may also be adjusted or modified without a substantial change in circumstances as specifically required by the order itself if those provisions were made at the time the order was entered.

The overwhelming majority of Washington child support orders do not keep up with the normal changes that time brings to the lives of parents and their children.  As a result, many WA State support orders can and should be modified.

What exactly is a Washington child support modification?

A WA State child support modification is simply the legal process by which an Order of Support is brought up to date to reflect the current income and finances of both parents.  Under Washington child support law, either parent can request a modification so long as one of the statutory requirement is met.

It is important to note, however, that a Washington child support modification action can only change CURRENT AND FUTURE SUPPORT.  There is currently no legal mechanism in WA State that allows for the modification of support that was owed prior to the requested modification.

What parts of a Washington child support order can be modified?

All Washington child support orders can be modified, whether they were from a divorce action, a paternity action, or some other action establishing legal custody or guardianship. 

There are two types of Washington State child support orders:

  • The first are court orders that were entered in a Superior Court somewhere in WA State.  These orders were signed by a judge or a commissioner.
  • The second type of Washington child support order is administrative order that was entered through the Division of Child Support.

Our Washington child support attorneys can assist you in modifying either type of order.  Additionally, we can even modify child support orders that were entered in another state, so long as certain conditions exists.  Moreover, almost any aspect of a current Order of Support can be modified so long as it is justified by the current circumstances. 

What are the primary factors that are considered in a Washington child support modification action?

  • The incomes of each of the parents
  • Work-related daycare costs
  • Medical insurance costs
  • Change in the age of the child
  • Changes in the residential schedule
  • Extraordinary medical expenses
  • The number of children in each household
  • Is the child going on to college?