For a single parent, raising a child with only one income can be very challenging. Recognizing this reality, Oregon law imposes a legal obligation on both parents to provide support to their minor children. Obtaining child support can be straightforward, however, that is not always the case. At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we frequently help clients deal with difficult Oregon child support issues. Our dedicated family law attorneys have the local experience and knowledge necessary to put your mind at ease through what is undoubtedly an emotionally draining time.

Child support usually refers to money paid by a non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. The state of Oregon presumes that this child support will assist with the care, support, education and welfare of the children. When a couple goes through a divorce, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide for their children. However, child support is usually paid by one party only (the exception being child support for a “child attending school” who is between 18 and 21 years old). If the custodial parent has a significantly higher income than the non-custodial parent and/or if the parenting time is fairly equal, then the custodial parent may be required to pay child support to the non-custodial parent. It is far more common for the custodial parent to receive child support from the non-custodial parent.

While parents are legally obligated to provide child support, courts do not order child support in every case. When a court determines whether child support is necessary, it considers several factors, including:

  • Each parents’ gross income from all sources;
  • The amount of time the children spend with each parent (parenting time);
  • The work-related childcare costs of each parent;
  • Medical insurance costs for the parents and children;
  • Ongoing medical costs not covered by insurance; and
  • Other pertinent factors such as Social Security or Veterans benefits.

The judge overseeing the case will use a predetermined formula to come up with a presumptive child support amount. In most cases, this figure will be the amount that the paying parent is responsible for. While courts have broad authority to deviate from the presumptive amount, this is a relatively rare occurrence.

Oregon is one of a number of states that allow child support for college-age children. Adult children over the age of 18 who are in school generally qualify for support until they turn 22. In these situations, child support is often required from both parents and is usually paid directly to the adult child. The parents may request to satisfy their child support obligation for an adult child in other forms such as through direct payment of college tuition or room and board.

Most child support payments in Oregon are made through automatic payroll deductions known as garnishment. These cases are monitored and enforced by a state agency. The parent who is responsible for Oregon child support can also arrange to send cash or check and can even pay online using a credit or debit card. It is also possible for a friend or family member to pay child support on another’s behalf, provided they have the child support case number and the name and address of the parent responsible for child support payments. While the most common type of support ordered by a judge is a cash contribution, a party may also be ordered to provide health insurance and/or obtain life insurance to secure the future support of a child. Finally, both parties may be ordered to contribute toward extraordinary medical expenses that are not covered by insurance (i.e., out of pocket medical expenses).

When Will an Oregon Judge Order Child Support?

Often, a judge will issue a child support order during the divorce proceeding. However, child support can also be ordered through an Oregon paternity case involving unmarried parents. Paternity must be established before child support can be ordered. If a child is born to married parents, paternity is presumptively established by the marriage. However, when parents are not married, paternity must be established either by submitting the appropriate paperwork when the child is born or through a formal legal process. If the father acknowledges paternity, the process is a simple one in that the father can complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. However, genetic testing may be necessary if the alleged father does not agree that he is a child’s biological parent. Indeed, the main purpose of many paternity cases is to obtain necessary child support payments for the custodial parent.

Once child support is awarded, either parent can request that a judge modify a child support order if a change in circumstances occurs. Depending on whether the party seeking modification proceeds with an administrative or judicial modification, the process may take as little as two to six months. While any substantial change in either parties’ financial circumstances can be the basis for a child support modification, the most common reasons for a modification order include:

  • Either parent’s income has increased or decreased;
  • The needs of the child receiving support have changed (e.g., childcare has ceased);
  • The physical custody arrangement between the parties has changed; and
  • The number of children either party is responsible for has increased or decreased.

If both parents agree to a child support modification, the process can be expedited with no need for a judicial hearing. However, frequently, child support modification requests are contested by the party that would be adversely impacted by the modification, and a hearing is required before the court will order a modification.

If you are in the process of seeking child support in Oregon or believe that an existing child support order no longer accurately reflects your situation, contact one of our family law attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP. As dedicated divorce lawyers, we have extensive experience handling divorce cases as well as the related issues that frequently come up when going through a divorce, including child custody and child support. To learn more about how our award-winning attorneys can assist you in obtaining child support or modifying an existing child support order, call us at (503) 222-9116 or contact us through our online form to learn more about how we can help.

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