A Guide to Child Support in Oregon

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Both parents have a financial obligation to support their children, regardless of whether they were ever married or not. When parents do not live together, child support can help ensure a child’s needs are met and they are able to thrive. However, it’s important to understand that the only way to get child support in Oregon is through a court order. Verbal agreements made between parents cannot be enforced by a judge if the paying parent fails to satisfy their obligation. If you think you may be eligible to receive support payments, the following guide to Oregon child support explains what you should know.

What is Child Support?

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other to meet a child’s needs. Typically, it is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. It can be ordered as part of a divorce case or in connection with a child custody matter. Child support can also be ordered if the child’s parents are unmarried and paternity has been established. Oregon child support covers the following:
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Day care
  • Medical care
  • Other costs of supporting a child
Significantly, child support payments can factor in extraordinary medical costs and college expenses. These costs are considered additions to a basic child support order.

How is Oregon Child Support Calculated?

Oregon child support is calculated using the “income share” method. Specifically, Oregon courts will apply legal guidelines in determining child support that considers parents’ gross monthly income, how many children are in the family, parenting-time schedules, and work-related daycare costs. Importantly, these guidelines apply a presumption that all parents are able to work 40 hours per week at minimum wage unless they are disabled, receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, or incarcerated. If a parent makes only minimum wage, a court will consider a parent’s potential income based on their work qualifications, rather than their actual income. Parents may agree to a deviation of up to 15% of the presumed child support amount. If there is a good reason, a judge may deviate from the child support guidelines when appropriate. For instance, if a child has special needs and requires costly medical care, a court can increase the amount of child support to help ensure these additional expenses are covered.

When Does Child Support End?

In Oregon, child support payments are typically made until the child has turned 18. However, if the child is attending school, support ends when they turn 21. In these cases, the support must be paid directly to the 18-20 year-old child. Child support payments can be stopped before the child has reached the age of majority if the child is legally emancipated, gets married, or joins the military.

How Do You Obtain a Child Support Order?

There are a few ways a child support order can be obtained. First, parents can agree on the amount of child support during divorce proceedings through negotiation or by using mediation. The parents would then submit their child support settlement to the court. Once signed by a judge, the agreement would become a legally binding order. If parents can’t agree on the amount of child support that should be paid, a judge will determine the matter. In certain situations, child support can also be obtained if there is no divorce or custody case pending. If a parent is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Oregon Health Plus (OHP) benefits through the Oregon Department of Justice, Child Support Program, they may be able to obtain a child support order through the state. In some counties, a parent can apply for child support even if they have not received such benefits. The local District Attorney’s office may provide assistance to secure a child support order in some counties. A parent who is entitled to collect child support payments may also request back support. A judge can order child support payments retroactive from the date the divorce or child custody proceeding was commenced. In addition, a parent who filed for child support through the state may be eligible to collect back child support payments from the date the application was submitted.

Can You Modify Child Support Payments?

Once child support has been ordered by a judge, the order is binding. But children’s needs change as they grow older and family circumstances don’t always remain the same. Child support payments can be modified by a court order if there is a substantial change in a parent’s income, a change in parenting time, the birth of another child, or a change in health care coverage. If there has been no change in circumstances, the Oregon Child Support Program will review an order every three years upon request. The parents may consent to the modification. In the event a parent does not agree to the modified amount, a hearing may be held before an administrative law judge.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Child Support Attorney

Oregon child support can be a complex matter and it’s critical to have a skillful family law attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and protect your interests. Based in Salem, Litowich Law is dedicated to providing clients throughout Oregon with compassionate counsel and reliable representation for child support and other family law issues. We welcome you to contact us to schedule a consultation.
Categories: Child Support