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Temporary Child Support

If children are involved in a family law case, there is sometimes a need for temporary child support.  Fortunately, Washington State has a procedure for obtaining temporary child support. Temporary child support is child support that the court orders to be paid by one parent to the other for the benefit of the child(ren) during the pendency of the case.  The request for temporary child support can be made at the same time as other initial pleadings in a case, or can be brought later as the need arises or as the party is ready to make such a request. 

Temporary child support will last until the final order of child support is entered.  This usually happens at the conclusion of the case (either at the conclusion of trial or after the parties have reached an agreement).  In most cases, the temporary child support will last for 3-12 months, but it can last longer.  If prior to the conclusion of the case the order needs to be modified it may be possible to do so, though people should be warned that oftentimes the cost of modifying the temporary order is not worth the modification of support (this is based on the assumption that modified temporary order will not last very long).

Importantly, if a party fails to make payments on a temporary order of child support that party will remain responsible after the temporary order is replaced by the permanent order.  In other words, just because the temporary order has terminated does not mean that the unpaid amounts due under the order are likewise extinguished.  RCW 26.09.060(11). This rule can be modified if the final order of child support orders that the debt should be forgiven.

Parties are often very relieved to find out that they do not have to wait to receive child support until the end of their case.  This is especially true in cases where the trial date is many months away.  One benefit of temporary support is that it takes away the other party’s ability to encourage a party to settle the case regardless of the terms, in order to receive child support.  Child support can give the receiving parent some breathing room while they decide what terms of the final orders they are willing to live with.

In some circumstances parties seek temporary child support as part of their motion for other temporary orders.  A motion for temporary orders can request a temporary parenting plan, temporary spousal maintenance, the use of certain property, and more.  It is a useful, and sometimes necessary, method of organizing life after a family law case has been filed, but prior to the final order.

The pattern forms for filing a motion for a temporary order of child support can be found here.  The temporary order of child support looks similar to the final order of child support.  Rules for filing a motion for a temporary order of child support vary from county to county.  A family law attorney practicing in your county will be able to assist you with the specific procedure in your county.

If you have questions about temporary child support, other temporary orders, or any other part of your family law case, please contact us today.  We would be honored to help you with all your family law needs.