OVERVIEW OF THE CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION PROCESS
Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services. It is our goal to provide you with professional and efficient legal services. In order to make you more fully aware of the future course of your child support modification, it is important that you have full and complete information regarding the process through which your case will continue until its final conclusion.
Disclaimer: The following overview of the child support modification process is intended for information only and is not intended as a substitute for meeting personally with Gregory L. Davies and getting legal advice regarding your specific matter.
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A child support modification can be complex and confusing. Whether you decide to process your child support modification yourself or hire our office to work with you, there is no substitute for proper legal advice to ensure your child support modification is properly prepared, filed, negotiated, and finalized.
What is a Child Support Modification?
A child support modification is a legal proceeding in which an existing Order of Child Support is modified or changed due to changed circumstances regarding the parties’ financial circumstances.
Starting/Filing a Child Support Modification
A proceeding for the modification of an order of child support shall commence with the filing of a petition and worksheets. The petition shall be in the form prescribed by the administrator for the courts.
Washington State has adopted pattern child support modification forms that are required to be used in child support modification proceedings. The pattern forms can be found online or purchased from the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk.
If you choose to prepare your own child support modification you will need to obtain the proper forms. Please refer to our website in “Services” under “Resources” for links to the Washington State forms website and the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk’s website.
If you choose to hire our office to assist you with your child support modification our office will provide the appropriate pattern forms.
The petitioner shall serve upon the other party the summons, a copy of the petition, and the worksheets in the form prescribed by the administrator for the courts. If the modification proceeding is the first action filed in this state, service shall be made by personal service. If the order to be modified was entered in this state, service shall be by personal service or by any form of mail requiring a return receipt. Proof of service shall be filed with the court.
A responding party's answer and worksheets shall be served and the answer filed within twenty days after service of the petition or sixty days if served out of state. A responding party's failure to file an answer within the time required shall result in entry of a default judgment for the petitioner.
At any time after responsive pleadings are filed, any party may schedule the matter for hearing.
A child support modification if generally finalized by mandatory arbitration.
Current Filing Fee for a Child Support Modification
The filing fee currently charged by Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk depends on whether the order being modified was entered in Snohomish County Superior Court or another jurisdiction. The fee to modify a Snohomish County Superior Court child support order is currently $56.00.
The fee to modify another jurisdictions child support order is currently $260.00.
What is a Child Support Adjustment?
A child support adjustment is a legal proceeding in which an existing Order of Child Support is adjusted or changed. A motion to adjust child support is more limited in scope than a modification. All child support decrees may be adjusted once every twenty-four months based upon changes in the income of the parents without a showing of substantially changed circumstances.
Either party may initiate the adjustment by filing a motion and child support worksheets.
There is no Filing Fee to file an adjustment.
Who may file a modification or adjustment?
Either parent or Washington State DSHS
A Modification or Adjustment is Prospective
In most cases the provisions of any Order of Child Support may be modified only as to installments accruing after the petition for modification or motion for adjustment is filed with the court.
Substantial Change of Circumstances for Modifications
The provisions of any Order for Child Support may be modified only upon a showing of a substantial change of circumstances not contemplated at the time the original order of support was entered.
Is Unemployment a Substantial Change in Circumstances?
A parent paying child support voluntary unemployment or voluntary underemployment, by itself, is not a substantial change of circumstances.
When can a Child Support Modification or Adjustment be filed?
Anytime: A party to an order of child support may petition for a modification based upon a showing of substantially changed circumstances at any time.
One Year or More: An order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without a showing of substantially changed circumstances:
(a) If the order in practice works a severe economic hardship on either party or the child;
(b) If a party requests an adjustment in an order for child support which was based on guidelines which determined the amount of support according to the child's age, and the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based;
(c) If a child is still in high school, upon a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school; or
(d) To add an automatic adjustment of support provision consistent with RCW 26.09.100.
Two Years or more: If twenty-four months have passed from the date of the entry of the order or the last adjustment or modification, whichever is later, the order may be adjusted without a showing of substantially changed circumstances based upon:
(i) Changes in the income of the parents; or
(ii) Changes in the economic table or standards in chapter 26.19 RCW.
Significant Increase in Child Support
If the court adjusts or modifies a child support obligation by more than thirty percent and the change would cause significant hardship, the court may implement the change in two equal increments, one at the time of the entry of the order and the second six months from the entry of the order. Twenty-four months must pass following the second change before a motion for another adjustment under this subsection may be filed.
Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Our attorney’s fees are based on an hourly rate along with an estimate of the amount of time we believe it will take to finalize your child support modification or adjustment. Our current fees are listed on our website in “Services” under “Fees.” Child support modifications or adjustments that are resolved by agreement or settlement will cost less than ones that are contested and must be resolved by the court or arbitrator.
Note to Do-It-Yourselfers:
If you choose to do your own child support modification or adjustment, we always recommend you have our office review your paperwork before you file it with the court. We do charge a minimal fee for this review or any other services you request. We also encourage you to consult with our office during the child support modification or adjustment process as you feel the need. If, at any time, you feel overwhelmed with the child support modification or adjustment process and doing it yourself we will be ready to take over your representation.
Our office keeps itemized billing records that are created at the same time as specific services provided for your case. This itemized billing statement is provided to you at the end of each month. You should review this billing statement carefully as it is not only a record of our time and charges for your case but also a record of our services provided.
Our office also prepares a written attorney fee agreement for each case. The agreement is signed by you and Gregory L. Davies. The original is kept in our client file and a copy is provided to you.
Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services. If you have any questions concerning your child support modification (or any other legal matter), whether you hire our office work with you or you are processing your child support modification yourself, please contact our office to set up an appointment to meet with Gregory L. Davies.
To find our find out more about how our law firm can help you with your child support modification, contact Gregory L. Davies, Attorney at Law, in Everett, Washington. Call (425) 259-2755 or email us.