CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION/ADJUSTMENT RCW 26.09.170.
Can you and should you adjust or modify your child support?
First, the distinction between a modification and an adjustment. A modification is a much bigger and more expensive process than an adjustment. In the case of a modification, all of the details of the child support order are back on the table.
An adjustment is meant to be a cheaper and faster process than a modification. In an adjustment most of the terms of the order have to remain unchanged, with, generally, only the income and support figures changing.
WHEN CAN YOU MODIFY SUPPORT.
There are several times that you can modify support.
You can modify support if there has been what the COURT will think is a substantial change in circumstances.
You can modify support if it has been more than a year since support was last changed, and one or more of the following apply:
A. You can show that the order works a severe economic hardship upon the parties or a child, or
B. If the child has changed age groups – that is, gone from under age 12 to age 12 or older, or
C. The child is still in high school, there is a need to extend support beyond age 18 to get the child the time to finish high school, or
D. To add an automatic adjustment provision to the order.
WHEN CAN YOU ADJUST SUPPORT.
You can adjust child support if it has been more than 24 months since the order was last changed, and one or more of the following applies:
A. The income of one or both of the parents have changed, or
B. There has been a change in the economic table used to calculate support.
SHOULD YOU ADJUST OR MODIFY SUPPORT.
Just because you can adjust or modify support doesn’t mean that you should. Economic factors are important to consider here.
Suppose that you are going to hire an attorney to handle the matter for you. And suppose further that the attorney is going to charge you $2,000 to do it. Should you do it?
If the life of the child support order is 24 months, then, dividing $2,000 by 24 months, you come up with almost $84 per month. What this means is if your child support is going to change less than $84 per month, you will actually lose money by adjusting or modifying support.
So, when it comes to changing child support orders, you have to issues to discuss with your attorney right up front: (1) Can you modify or adjust support and (2) does it make economic sense to do so.