COVID-19 and child support in Washington State

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Authored By: Northwest Justice Project

If you're having trouble paying child support because you lost your job due to the pandemic, read this. #3283EN

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The WashingtonLawHelp attorney-editors had a conversation with 2 of NJP's family law attorneys, Jill Mullins and Alex Kory, about how the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis affects child support payments.

You can jump to specific questions using time-code links below.

00:00 Do people still have to pay child support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?

00:49 What if the other parent doesn't pay child support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis?

03:16 What if I have been paying child support but lost my job due to COVID-19 and can no longer pay. What can I do?


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Not automatically.  

There are two types of child support orders:  

  1. Orders set by a court  

  2. Administrative orders set by the Division of Child Support (DCS). This is common if you get or have gotten public benefits for your children 


It depends. You will have to go back to court for this. Only a court can change court-ordered child support. Court-ordered support will only change if someone files a motion or petition with the court. Read If you Want to Modify (Change) Your Child Support Order to learn more.  

No. Child support cannot change retroactively. Once you go to court, you cannot ask that child support go down dating back to March 1, 2020, when the pandemic started.  

Maybe. If DCS set your order, they might be able to change (modify) it. DCS has its own rules about how often they review a support order and how much income must have changed.

If you have questions about an administrative child support order, you can

Have a copy of your order or the case number on hand when you call or visit. 

You should do everything you can to make some partial payment towards supporting your children financially. Any amount you do not pay will become a support debt owing to the parent who you pay support. That debt can be collected for at least 10 years past the child's 18th birthday.  

Once you are working again, you can voluntarily contribute to the past due amount. If DCS collects child support, they will work with your employer to increase the amount to cover back support obligations. 

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Sep 14, 2022
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