Reasons to Modify an Existing Child Support Agreement

hands exchanging money over a gavel - reasons to change child support concept
Child support is crucial to help ensure a child’s needs are met. However, it’s not always simply one fixed amount that is paid over the course of time. There can be situations where a parent has difficulty meeting this financial obligation — and courts in Oregon recognize that there are reasons to modify child support. In such cases, the parent may make a request for court-ordered child support to be adjusted.

What is Child Support?

Child support is payment made by one parent to the other to cover the basic needs of a child when both parents do not live in the same household. These payments are meant to cover the costs of the child’s food, housing, and clothing. Under Oregon law, parents are required to financially support a child until they reach the age of 18 or they have become emancipated. Support may also be ordered until the child is 21 if they are attending school as a full time or part time student.

Reasons to Modify Child Support

Child support isn’t always set in stone. There are a limited number of reasons a judge would order child support to be modified in Oregon. By law, there must be a substantial change in circumstances in order for a child support modification to be considered. Reasons to modify child support can include the following:
  • A change in income — Either parent may seek an adjustment to child support if there has been a substantial change in financial circumstances. This can occur due to illness, disability, loss of employment, or other unanticipated financial circumstances.
  • The parenting plan has changed — The amount of child support is typically calculated by overnight parenting time. A substantial change in how many overnights a child spends with the parent may justify a modification.
  • The birth of a child — If the number of children involved has changed, a parent may be able to request a modification.
  • The needs of the child have changed — If a child’s needs have changed, or they unexpectedly become emotionally or physically incapacitated, a modification of child support may be warranted.
  • A change in healthcare coverage — If a parent stops carrying medical coverage for a child’s healthcare needs, a support modification may be considered. In these cases, potential cash medical support to assist with out-of-pocket costs may also be evaluated.
In addition, the State of Oregon Child Support Program has the authority to review a child support order every three years upon request to determine whether it continues to meet the state’s guidelines — regardless of any change in circumstances.

Can Child Support Be Modified Without Going to Court?

To modify child support without going to court, a party must request a change from the Oregon Child Support Program. The program administrator will review the modification request and provide notice to the other parent. The proposed modification will then be served on the other parent who has the opportunity to object. If a hearing is not requested, the new child support order will take effect approximately 34 days later. However, if either parent asks for a hearing, an administrative law judge will decide how much the support payment should be adjusted. No changes will be made to the order until the hearing takes place. If a parent disagrees with the outcome, the decision can be appealed in circuit court. A streamlined modification process is in place to modify child support when parents have lost their jobs and have experienced a reduction in income. The procedure associated with these types of modifications is different since the modification is solely based on income and employment-based circumstances. Unlike with the traditional modification process, which can often take months, an employment-based modification can be expedited. If the parent is still unable to find employment after a period of six months, another modification may be requested.

Can Both Parties Agree to a Modification?

Sometimes, it is not necessary to go through the formal child support modification process. If both parents agree to the change, a modification may be made with the consent of both parties. In such instances, parents can submit a written stipulation in the circuit court that entered the original judgment. Mediation can often be instrumental in helping parents work out an agreement for any changes that must be made to child support or parenting time.

Contact an Experienced Oregon Family Law Attorney

It’s important to understand your options when it comes to modifying child support. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved in your case. Based in Salem, Litowich Law provides skillful counsel to clients throughout Oregon for a broad scope of family law matters, including child support modifications. We welcome you to contact us for a consultation.
Categories: Child Support