How to Modify a Child Support Order in Washington, D.C.
How and when to modify child support orders in Washington, D.C.
Motion to Modify Child SupportThere is only one correct way to change the amount of child support money that is paid under a child support order. That is by filing a motion in court to modify the support order. It is not sufficient to simply get the custodial parent to agree to accept a reduction in child support. When a non-custodial parent is ordered to make child support payments by a family court judge, that parent must continue to make the payments in the amount ordered by the court until the judge formally modifies or terminates the order. If the non-custodial parent fails to make the court-ordered payments, he or she could face very serious consequences, and could be held in contempt of court. It is not unusual for circumstances to change in the lives of parents who are subject to child support orders. Occasionally, these changes can necessitate a change in the amount of child support that is paid by the non-custodial parent. Fortunately, there is a fairly simple process in place to allow parties to ask the court to change the amount of child support that is ordered in their case. When filing a motion to modify child support, the party requesting the change must allege that there has been a "substantial and material" change in the needs of the child who is the subject of the order, or in the non-custodial parent's ability to pay.
Some Common Grounds for Seeking Modification of a Child Support OrderThere are several common grounds for seeking modification of child support orders in Washington, D.C., including: (1) The non-custodial parent has lost his or her job or suffered a significant reduction in income; (2) the non-custodial parent is incarcerated; (3) the non-custodial parent is supporting other children; (4) the custodial parent is now earning significantly more money than when the child support order was entered; (5) the child's expenses have significantly changed; (6) the child is no longer living wth the custodial parent; and (7) the child is now over 21-years-old or has been emancipated through self-supporting employment, marriage, or active duty military service. If any of these changed circumstances apply, the parties should consider whether the changes are significant enough to make a substantial difference in the amount of child support that should be paid. The District of Columbia Child Support Guidelines provide a presumptive level of child support based on a number of factors that are set forth in the guidelines. If application of the guidelines to the changed circumstances results in a presumptive child support order that varies from the current order by 15% or more, than the change would likely be considered significant enough to support modification of the custody order.