For parents who are going through a divorce or child custody case, Oregon law provides useful guidelines for calculating child support. The guidelines are used in all child support cases to determine how much money each parent should contribute for the care of their children. Generally, child support is paid when the parents do not live in the same household.
The Oregon Department of Justice provides an online child support guidelines calculator. This calculator is used in Oregon and produces the “presumed correct” amount of child support that each party will pay. “Presumed correct” means that if the information input into the calculator is correct and there are no other factors for the court to consider (called “rebuttal factors”), the amount produced by the calculator will be ordered. If the parties disagree about the accuracy of the information input into the calculator or whether there are rebuttal factors, final authority to determine the amount rests with the administrator, administrative law judge, or court.
Various factors are considered in determining the amount of monthly child support payments, including:
In Oregon, parents are required to support their children until the age of 18. The courts and the Oregon Child Support Program have the power to order that support continue until the child is 21 if the child is attending school at least half time in an approved program of education. If a child is married, self-supporting, or in the military, the child is usually considered to be emancipated and the parents’ support obligation ends.
Oregon law requires that when an order for support exists, it must be paid through withholdings from the paying parent’s paycheck, just like taxes. If withholding is not possible or the parents have agreed on another arrangement, the child support amount could be directly deposited into the receiving parent’s checking account.
Sometimes parents can agree on the amount of child support and handle the issue informally, without court or agency orders. This might be the case if no divorce or child custody orders are needed. However, a child support agreement will be enforceable only if it is an order signed by a judge or the Child Support Program staff.
There are options for enforcing child support orders. If a parent has set up an account with the Oregon Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Child Support Program, the first option is to contact the case worker for their case. It is the job of the DOJ and local district attorneys to collect and enforce child support orders. There are processes set up to help parents receive their child support without the need to pay an attorney to assist. However, this process is only available if the parent who is owed support has set up an account with the DOJ Child Support Program.
If a parent has not set up the DOJ Child Support Program account and is owed child support, an experienced Oregon divorce attorney can assist the parent who is owed support.
Parents who fall behind in child support payments risk being held in contempt of court and having their driver’s licenses, professional and business licenses, or recreational licenses suspended, as well as having bank accounts garnished, passports revoked, and tax refunds intercepted.
You may ask the Child Support Program to review child support orders if it has been at least 35 months since the most recent order was entered or if there has been a significant change of circumstance since the most recent order. Examples of significant changes include: physical custody of the child has changed; the needs of the child have changed; the number of children involved has changed; or the income of one or both parents has changed. This is typically referred to as an administrative review and is done without attorneys.
A modification may also be done with the consent of both parties. If either parent does not agree with the amount of support payments, a hearing may be held, during which an administrative law judge will determine the appropriate amount for support payments.
Child support is also modified in the circuit court whenever a change in custody or parenting time is ordered.
If you need assistance obtaining child support payments, or enforcing or modifying an existing child support order, we welcome you to contact Litowich Law. Based in Salem, we serve clients throughout Oregon and are dedicated to helping our clients and their families make well-informed decisions for their future.