Need to Modify Your Child Support?

Whether you and your ex-spouse agreed on your child support during an uncontested divorce or a judge decided on the appropriate amount, it will probably need to be altered at some point. You or your ex might have changed careers, your child might have different needs, or physical custody might have been modified. No matter the reason, there is a strict process for changing the terms, which is referred to as a “modification.” This blog will lay out the general process for obtaining a modification and some common reasons ex-spouses choose to seek a modification.

Automatic Reviews

State law allows child support orders in Washington to be revisited every 24 months to determine if there is a need for modification. However, this automatic review only takes each parent’s income into consideration. Other factors will not impact whether or not a modification is granted. 

Substantial Change of Circumstances

Outside of the automatic reviews, you can petition the courts for a modification in your Order of Support if you experience a “substantial change of circumstances.” You start the process by filling out a “Petition to Modify Child Support” as well as several other worksheets that support your reasoning for requesting a modification. 

After you have satisfied all initial requirements with the court, your ex-spouse must be served with the petition and court summons. If your ex is residing in Washington, he or she has 20 days to respond to the petition after proof of service. Out-of-state respondents generally have 60 days to formally respond. If your ex does not respond within the required time frame, a default judgment will likely be entered, which means your petition is granted. If your ex does not agree to the proposed modification, then a court hearing will be set.

Common Situations Necessitating a Modification

Each modification petition is determined on a case-by-case basis, but the following are some reasons ex-spouses often request a modification: 

  • The child (or parent) becomes ill with a chronic medical condition that requires constant care
  • You have lost a source of significant income (laid off)
  • You have been ordered to pay support for another child, or you gain physical custody of another child
  • The child’s physical custody has been modified
  • Changes in the child’s age


Virtually no one’s situation stays the same after a divorce; when this applies to you, you should consider your options to modify a child support order as offered by the state of Washington. Depending on how long it has been since the original order was handed down and whether or not you experienced a substantial change in circumstances, there are different ways you can go about seeking a modification. 

To help you achieve your goals and ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible, get in touch with McMahon Law Group today. You can reach us over the phone at 360-893-2527 or through our website.

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McMahon Law Group

Legal issues of any type can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, and certainly something you don’t want to face alone. Attorney Jacque McMahon and the McMahon Law Group will work closely with you to ensure you not only get the best legal representation possible, but that you are well-informed throughout the process. If you are facing legal issues, please contact us to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

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