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Child Support Modification in D.C.

When you pay child support in Washington, D.C., the amount is based on calculations that use both parents' monthly income as determining factors. The court uses the state guidelines to arrive at the figure and this amount is presumed correct.

However, when there's an existing child support order, there are times when the child support obligation should be changed to reflect the current financial circumstances of the parents. For instance, a parent has taken a lesser-paying job or has been laid-off and now has less income. Therefore, they can't meet the current child support obligation. In these situations, a parent may request a child support modification.

Child Support Modification in D.C.: An Overview

Reading a plain language reference can help when you're trying to break down and understand a statute. See the chart below for an easy summary of the relevant laws on child support modification in D.C.


District of Columbia Code Division II. Judiciary and Judicial Procedure:

  • Section 16-916.01 (child support guideline)
  • Section 16-916.02 (child support guideline commission)
  • Section 16-914 (custody of children)
  • Section 16-916.03 (child support proceedings)


Timing of the Modification


Every 3 years, a parent may request a review and adjustment conference from the Child Support Services Division (CSSD). At the conference, both parents will provide current information regarding the following:

  • Income;
  • Childcare expenses;
  • Health care insurance availability and expenses;
  • Other children in the home; and
  • Other child support orders.

The Child Support Services Division will use the information to calculate the child support amount according to the child support guidelines. If the updated amount is different than the previous amount by 15% or more, then a parent may file a motion for modification.

A parent may also file for a motion directly to the D.C. Superior Court, rather than going through the CSSD.

Substantial and Material Change in Circumstances

A parent doesn't have to wait 3 years to file for a modification if there's been a "substantial and material change" in circumstances concerning the noncustodial parent's ability to pay or in the needs of the child.

Typically, this means that the revised child support amount must differ from the previous amount by 15% or more.

The parent requesting the modification must show sufficient evidence of the substantial and material change in circumstances.

Child Support Modification for Incarcerated Parents

An incarcerated parent may file a motion directly with the Superior Court, but the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) has specific policies related to incarcerated parents.

CSSD may file on behalf of an incarcerated parent after receiving notice of the non-custodial parent's sentence for incarceration for more than 30 days (for a charge other than failure to pay child support). If the incarcerated parent makes a request for modification to CSSD, CSSD may not oppose it if the parent:

  • Has an active child support order that continues to accrue;
  • Has been sentenced to a term of incarceration for more than 30 days;
  • Has incarceration that is the result of a charged other than failure to pay child support; and
  • Has insufficient financial assets to meet child support obligations demonstrated in bank accounts or other accounts.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Child Support Modification in D.C.: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help with D.C. Child Support Modification

If you're a parent who needs help modifying your child support order, don't delay getting legal help. It could end up costing you and your child down the road. Get in touch with a D.C. child support attorney for assistance with modification and other child support matters.

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