Handling New Financial Circumstances

Seattle Divorce NegotiationsAfter going through a divorce, there can still be a lot of details to work out.  It’s common for divorced parents to continue to disagree, particularly about financial matters. It’s also very common for continuing financial obligations – things like child support, spousal maintenance, and responsibility for health care costs or extracurricular activities – to need renegotiation from time to time. This is because those obligations are calculated based on the income of the parents.

But we all know that income can change, whether it’s because one parent gets a raise or a new job, or because a parent loses their job or becomes disabled.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when you’re thinking about whether your child support or maintenance needs to be changed:

  • What does the most recent court order say?  Some orders have built-in “adjustment clauses” that allow parents to exchange financial information and re-calculate their support obligations on a regular basis.  It’s important to provide your ex-partner with all of the information the order requires, and to follow the schedule it lays out, or you may lose your ability to adjust the support for previous years.
  • How long has it been since the last change?  Unless your order sets out a schedule for adjusting support or some other major change in circumstances has occurred, child support and modification usually can only be modified until a year has passed, and in some instances, two years.  Certain other conditions, such as a change in income, or a child turning twelve years old, must also be present.
  • Is everyone following the rules?  Sometimes one party will stop making support payments because their finances have changed and they feel like they can’t afford it any more.  While every situation is a little bit different, simply not paying any more is usually not a good idea, especially if the other party disagrees.  If your payments are no longer manageable, or if your ex-partner has stopped or reduced their payments, feel free to call us!
  • What if my job changed? Getting a raise or simply changing jobs is not usually enough, by itself, to prompt a change in support.  But a major change in your income, like getting a job when you didn’t have one when the last calculation was done, or losing a job you had, can be an exception.

Don’t let it go too long – if you’re not sure, we’re here to help. Call our attorneys right away if you think it’s time to make an adjustment at (206) 324-8969!



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