Modifying a Child Support Order Due to a Disability

Posted on June 14, 2022 11:21am
Modifying a Child Support Order Due to a Disability

When an ex-spouse becomes disabled and can no longer work or can only work part time, it can be stressful for both them and their former spouse if the injured party is responsible for paying alimony or child support. Not only does the disabled individual have to adjust to new limitations, but the party who receives these regular payments may be worried about their financial dependency.

Parents in Washington are considered responsible for the financial needs of their children up until 18 years of age or graduation of high school, whichever comes first. However, these payments can be modified to make them more affordable to a parent going through a hardship such as a disability.

Child support payments typically aren’t just going to go away completely, but there are ways to reduce them when needed via court order.

Part-Time Workers and Disability Payments

You can potentially have your child support payments reduced if you are only able to work part time. To qualify for reduced payments, you must show:

  • You rely on Social Security payments to pay your bills.
  • A doctor has found you to be medically disabled.

This does not necessarily apply to part-time workers without a disability, as the court may rule that they are making a choice not to work full time.

Temporary vs Permanent Disability

If your disability is short-term, the court will most likely order a temporary modification on your payments. Don’t worry if you’re not sure of the duration of the disability–you can always go back and request a longer period of adjusted payments. In the difficult event that your disability will be lifelong, the court can make a more permanent order.


Depending on what type of benefits you are awarded, you may have more or less difficulty receiving a child support modification:

  • SSI: If you qualify as low income, then you may be receiving SSI benefits. This is an easier scenario to qualify for a modification.
  • SSDI: While not quite as likely, you can still receive a modification.

Difficulty Paying Child Support While Disabled

You don’t need to fear serious consequences such as jail time if you are working with the court and keeping them in the loop about everything. Typically, consequences like jail time are given to those disobeying or ignoring the court.

Under What Circumstances Can Child Support Be Completely Dismissed?

It is very unlikely that you will be able to do anything to completely dismiss child support. Disability is not grounds for a complete cessation of payments. However, you can prevent payments from destroying your financial situation by having the amount proportionately adjusted to your hardship.

Our experienced child support lawyers can help you get adjustments to your payments if you are experiencing a short-term or long-term disability.

Contact McKinley Irvin online to schedule a consultation.

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