Finalizing a divorce always entails preparing a Washington state Child Support Worksheet and Child Support Order. Often, these court documents stop child support when the child reaches 18-years old or has graduated high school. With proper planning and evidence, courts may extend child support to cover the costs of a college education, as well. The laws leave a lot of room for discretion, but the process in King County is simple. Here are the steps needed to seek a Child Support Modification for post-secondary education support:
1. Prepare the Petition for Child Support Modification.
Do not forget the time deadlines set out in your current Child Support Order. Most orders require that you submit your modification request before the child turns 18-years old or graduates high school. Judges prefer that parties do not wait until the last minute so that each ex-spouse has a property opportunity to financially prepare.
2. Do not Forget the Supporting Documentation.
To initiate a modification case, you must also file a Summons, Confidential Information Form, and Financial Declaration. Court rules require that you provide the court and the other party financial records that must be filed under seal. King County Local Family Law Rule (LFLR) 10 sets out the required documentation including but not limited to: two years of tax returns and W2s and six months of bank statements, pay stubs, and other financial statements.
3. Have the Pleadings Personally Served on the Other Party.
Filing the case is just the beginning. You must also serve the documents on the other party. This typically includes hiring a process server or the sheriff to personally hand the documents to the other party. Other non-interested adults can also serve the documents. Make sure to have the serving party fill out and file and Declaration of Service with the court.
4. Perform Discovery and Negotiate.
Often, parties will be able to exchange financial documentation (also known as discovery) informally. Other times, especially where the parties are not on good terms, formal Interrogatories and Requests for Production may be required. After the financial information has been shared, it is often possible to negotiate with the other party and find a commonsense solution that does not involve more court.
5. Prepare and Appear for Trial.
In King County, each party is afforded the opportunity to prepare a memorandum and declaration supporting their trial arguments. In fact, under current rules, these modification actions are heard on the Trial by Affidavit calendar, which means in most scenarios, there is not live testimony. You must file a Motion to request live testimony at the trial. The case schedule outlines the deadlines, which also provide an opportunity to provide a reply declaration in response to the other party’s memo. After all documents are filed and served (and working copies provided to the court), the trial is usually a matter of 30 minutes to an hour.
The process behind Child Support Modifications requesting Post-Secondary Education is not too complicated, but the law and judicial interpretation of facts can be difficult to set forth properly. Attorneys work to help clients navigate this system to reach best results. The experienced litigators at the law office of Magnuson Lowell PS provide free case evaluations to help parents understand their rights and responsibilities regarding child support.