My Co-Parent Lost Their Job Because of The Covid-19 Pandemic, and They Say They Can’t Afford to Pay Child Support Anymore. Are They Still Obligated to Pay?

Yes, unless they get an order modifying their child support obligation.

If the co-parent’s child support order was set by a judge, then only a judge can change the amount. He or she can be granted a reduction in their child support liability on the basis of a change in income, but only if they file a motion to have their order modified in court and get it approved. Now that the courts are once again open, he or she may be able to have their motion granted. Even if this happens, however, the modification of their child support payment will not be retroactive. This means that any child support debt that has accrued between the time they lost their job and the time the order was modified will still be collectible until ten years after the child turns eighteen.

If the Washington Division of Child Support (DCS) set the order, then DCS can also modify the order to reduce a co-parent’s obligation and may take less time than filing a motion in court. But just like a child support order set by a court, no retroactive modifications are allowed, so your co-parent will still owe any debt that accumulates between the time they stopped paying and the time they are granted a modification.

Crouse Erickson