For those of us who are parents, our children are the most important part of our lives. We do anything and everything to keep them safe and put their well-being ahead of our own.
When it comes to divorce, both parents remain responsible for sustaining any children, and part of this often takes the form of child support.
These ongoing payments provide for the continuing financial benefit of any minor children. In Oregon, child support is often one of the biggest post-divorce expenses you encounter. Making sure you know what to pay, when, and why, is an important facet.
With that in mind, here are some answers to the most common and frequently asked child support questions we hear. By no means an exhaustive list, this should hopefully provide a broad idea of what to expect from the state of Oregon.
Who Is Entitled To Child Support in Oregon?
After a divorce, Oregon generally awards child support to the custodial parent. These payments cover the general care and well-being of children under the age of 18. In certain circumstances, these payments may also continue until the child turns 21 or beyond.
What Does Child Support Cover?
Wide-ranging, child support in Oregon covers any factors that contribute to a child’s care. These payments entail all the basic necessities. This includes:
- A safe, secure place to live.
- Medical coverage.
- Child care.
- Educational needs.
Essentially, if it plays a part in caring for and raising a child, it falls into this category.
While child support covers the needs, it doesn’t necessarily cover the wants. Extras can figure into the decision, but ultimately the court only takes necessities into account.
Related Reading: Do Courts Ever Award Split Custody?
How Do Courts Determine Child Support in Oregon?
A variety of factors determine the amount of child support payments in Oregon.
The court considers the needs of the children, as well as each parent’s income and ability to pay. Things like debt, regular payments like union dues or spousal support, and other financial elements play a part. There’s a formula for figuring out child support.
What Constitutes Income?
When determining child support in Oregon, the courts look at your gross income. As opposed to your take-home pay, this number is what you earn before removing any deductions. This includes monthly salary before taxes. It also accounts for other income sources, like bonuses or commissions.
Does A New Spouse’s Income Impact Child Support?
After a divorce, it’s common to establish a new household with a new spouse or partner. One question that arises is whether or not this person’s income impacts your child support payments?
In general, no, this doesn’t change your child support obligation under Oregon law.
Only your income and that of your ex figure into the calculation. That said, it’s rare, but in some situations, the court may consider the overall financial situation in a household. That can include income from a new spouse or partner.
Related Reading: What is a Status Quo Order?
Can You Modify Support Payments?
Child support payments are often steep and represent a financial hardship for the payer. The good news is it’s possible to modify a child support agreement. The bad news, however, is that it’s difficult.
The best way to handle this is to dispute the amount before it becomes final.
In Oregon, you can request a hearing to present evidence to rebut a proposed amount. This goes both ways. Either parent can use this opportunity to argue that the number should be higher or lower.
Things become harder to deal with once the court orders child support. The amount can be adjusted after the fact, but it’s a longer, more difficult process. Not to mention expensive.
If there’s been a significant change in circumstances, you can petition the court to modify.
Most often these changes represent the loss of a job, but there are other cases. A new baby is one example, as is a substantial shift in the amount of time your child spends with you. In cases like this, the court may alter the payment amount.
Though it is possible, the courts are often reluctant to modify child support payments. Even if you prove a dramatic change in income. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to get it right the first time.
Related Reading: How Does A Child Support Modification Work?
When Does Child Support End?
In general, child support lasts until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes later. There are situations, however, where it continues beyond that date.
As per ORS 107.108, child support in Oregon can last until 21 if the child attends school. This covers a broad spectrum of educational possibilities. It includes high school, community college, and four-year universities.
Professional, vocational, and technical training designed to increase employment prospects also fall under this umbrella. As do GED programs. Additionally, if a child has special needs and requires lasting parental care, the court may also order payments to continue indefinitely.
Child support in Oregon, as well as elsewhere, is complicated, layered, and depends on many factors. These are just a few of the common questions that pop up as you go through the process.
Hiring an experienced lawyer to guide you along may be in your best interest. They’ll answer all of your Oregon child support questions and give you an idea of what to expect. Spending a little bit of money now to avoid pitfalls often saves you much more in the long run.
Related Reading: How Does College Affect Child Support?