Code of the District of Columbia

§ 46–204. Amendment of order establishing alimony, child support, or maintenance; award as money judgment.

(a) Any order requiring payment of an amount of child support, regardless of whether the amount of the child support was the subject of a voluntary agreement of the parties, may be modified upon a showing that there has been a substantial and material change in the needs of the child or the ability of the responsible relative to pay since the day on which the order was issued. A showing or proof of a change in circumstances shall not be required to modify a support order that is being reviewed or modified pursuant to § 16-916.01(r)(3) or (r)(4).

(b) An award of alimony, child support, or maintenance is a money judgment that becomes absolute, vested, and upon which execution may be taken, when it becomes due.

(c) No modification of an award of alimony, child support, or maintenance may be retroactive, except that a modification may be permitted for the period during which a petition for modification is pending. The modification may then be permitted from the date on which the opposing party was given notice of the petition for modification according to statute or court rule.

(d)(1) A petition for modification of a child support order filed pursuant to § 23-112a may be adjudicated after the petitioner has been released from imprisonment.

(2) A petition for modification of a child support order filed pursuant to § 23-112a(b) shall be deemed filed as of the date the petition is filed in open court during sentencing at a criminal proceeding.

(3) Incarceration for contempt for failure to pay child support pursuant to § 46-225.02 shall not constitute a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a modification of support under subsection (a) of this section.


(Feb. 24, 1987, D.C. Law 6-166, § 5, 33 DCR 6710; Dec. 10, 1987, D.C. Law 7-47, § 2, 34 DCR 6849; Apr. 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-269, § 108(c), 48 DCR 1270; Mar. 30, 2004, D.C. Law 15-130, § 203(a), 51 DCR 1615; May 24, 2005, D.C. Law 15-357, § 103, 52 DCR 1999; June 22, 2006, D.C. Law 16-138, § 3, 53 DCR 3650.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 30-504.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-916.01 and § 23-112a.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-269 added the last sentence to subsec. (a).

D.C. Law 15-130, in the last sentence of subsec. (a), substituted “reviewed or modified pursuant to § 16-916.01(o)(2) or (o)(2A)” for “reviewed pursuant to § 16-916.1(o)(2)”.

D.C. Law 15-357 added subsec. (d).

D.C. Law 16-138, in subsec. (a), substituted “§ 16-916.01(r)(3) or (r)(4)” for “§ 16-916.01(o)(2) or (o)(2A)”; and added par. (d)(3).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 7(b) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-222, December 23, 1997, 44 DCR 114).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 7(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-222, December 23, 1997, 44 DCR 114), § 7(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110), § 7(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-503, October 27, 1998, 45 DCR 8495), and § 7(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-600, January 20, 1999, 46 DCR 1239).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 12-103, see § 13 of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Second Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-439, August 12, 1998, 45 DCR 6110).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-126, August 4, 1999, 46 DCR 6606).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Legislative Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-177, November 2, 1999, 46 DCR 9678).

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Act 13-241, January 11, 2000, 47 DCR 581).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) and (d) of the Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-446, November 7, 2000, 47 DCR 9213).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 108(c) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-5, February 13, 2001, 48 DCR 2440).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-485, October 3, 2002, 49 DCR 9631).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-600, January 7, 2003, 50 DCR 664).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Emergency Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Act 15-208, October 24, 2003, 50 DCR 9856).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2004 (D.C. Act 15-330, January 28, 2004, 51 DCR 1603).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-167, July 26, 2005, 52 DCR 7648).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3(c) of Income Withholding Transfer and Revision Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Act 16-200, November 17, 2005, 52 DCR 10490).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 7(c) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-210, April 13, 1999, law notification 46 DCR 3832).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 1999 (D.C. Law 13-57, March 7, 2000, law notification 47 DCR 1979).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 107(c) of Child Support and Welfare Reform Compliance Temporary Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Law 13-207, March 31, 2001, law notification 48 DCR 3238).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Temporary Amendment Act of 2002 (D.C. Law 14-238, March 25, 2003, law notification 50 DCR 2751).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Medical Support Establishment and Enforcement Temporary Amendment Act of 2003 (D.C. Law 15-84, March 10, 2004, law notification 51 DCR 3376).

Section 3(c) of D.C. Law 16-42 added subsec. (d)(3) to read as follows:

“(3) Incarceration for contempt for failure to pay child support pursuant to section 26b shall not constitute a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant a modification of support under subsection (a) of this section.”

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 16-42 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Effective Dates

Applicability: Section 4 of D.C. Law 16-138 provided: “This act shall apply as of April 1, 2007.”