At Litowich Law, we know many Oregon parents rely on child support to help their families survive and thrive. Receiving regular payments from your child’s other parent to help pay for food, housing, clothing, medical care, day care, and other costs, can make a profound difference in your family’s safety, security, peace of mind, and happiness. If you think you are entitled to child support, understanding the application process and its requirements, as well as how the court will decide the amount that is right, is an empowering first step. Here are the basics:
The only way to make a parent pay support is to get a support order, which must be signed by a judge or administrative hearing officer. Importantly, a promise or agreement between parents to pay is not enough and will not be enforceable by a court. That said, a judge or hearing officer can approve an agreement or promise between parents and make it a support order.
Importantly, Oregon laws on child support apply to both married and unmarried parents. For unmarried parents, however, paternity must be established before child support can be ordered. Paternity can be established by submitting paperwork or through a court or administrative legal process. If paternity is not being contested, it may be legally established by completing and filing a form with Oregon Vital Records. A mother may establish paternity by completing the form with or without the father’s voluntary acknowledgement. If the alleged father denies that he is the biological parent, simple genetic testing can be done.
Oregon courts use a child support calculator to decide the appropriate amount of support. The calculation follows legal guidelines established by the Oregon Child Support Program. The guidelines take into account many factors, including:
The guidelines assume that all parents can work 40 hours a week at minimum wage, unless the parent is disabled, is receiving workers’ compensation benefits, or is in jail. If a parent is making more than minimum wage, the guidelines will use that amount. Moreover, if the parent has the ability to make more than minimum wage, the guidelines will consider that parent’s potential income. Keep in mind that the calculator provides an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be ordered.
Child support orders are not set in stone and can be modified for a variety of reasons, including:
Even if there has not been a change in circumstances, the Oregon Child Support program will review your child support order every three years, if requested. A support order modification will involve a similar process to what was used to determine the initial order, and usually takes approximately 90-120 days to complete. If one parent does not agree to the amount ordered, a hearing may be necessary.
Child support can be ordered as part of a divorce and custody cases. In certain circumstances, it can be ordered without a pending divorce or custody case. The Division of Child Support (DCS) at the Oregon Department of Justice can obtain a child support order if the parent caring for the child is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Oregon Health Plus (OHP). In some Oregon counties, DCS will get a child support order even if the children have never been on TANF or OHP. In other counties, the local District Attorney’s office can help with a support order.
The Oregon Child Support Program can provide services when either parent lives in a different state. Federal law requires cooperation between states on child support issues and:
If you need assistance with an application for child support in Oregon, we welcome you to contact Litowich Law. Based in Salem, we serve clients throughout Oregon and are dedicated to helping you make well-informed decisions for your family’s future. We help fathers and mothers obtain child support.