When DSHS has already determined/ordered child support.

Some people might find themselves in the situation where DSHS has already determined and/or ordered child support between your spouse and you. But now, you are in the early stages of your divorce process and wonder how and/or if child support will be affected.

The issue and confusion will probably present itself in one of two ways: 1) you will fill out the initial documents to file for divorce and see the language in regards to child support in the Petition for Divorce; or 2) you have been served with the petition or a motion for temporary orders by your spouse which asks for child support to be determined.

Regardless of the way you have come to discover this issue, it is important to know what this means.

Child support can be determined by administrative order or court order

In the Petition for Divorce, number 9, you are asked to check whether child support should be determined by court order or through an administrative order.

If you already have child support determined through an administrative order (DSHS), you can ask the court to defer to that order and not make any ruling/change to child support. Essentially, you are asking that the administrative order be followed. If you choose this option, you will need to provide your DCS case number(s). Nevertheless, the administrative order does not deal with the tax exemption for the child(ren) or post-secondary (college or vocation school) support. As such, you may still want to indicate on the Petition how the tax exemption and/or post-secondary support should be divided between your spouse and you.

If you want the court to change the DSHS child support order or if your spouse has asked for it to be changed, a court order can be entered to determine the child support obligation. Thus, you may ask for a court order of child support even if there is already an administrative order in place. This means the court order will replace the administrative order to the extent the court order is different.

Advantages of keeping the administrative order of child support

There are two main advantages: 1) may make your divorce process less contested, since your spouse and you will not be arguing over child support; and 2) may require less paperwork/documents to be filed with the court.

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