Separated parents must often navigate child support issues. One parent may need to find out how much support to pay each month, while the other parent may rely on child support as an important part of the household budget. In Oregon, married parents may request or dispute child support through a divorce or legal separation, but they can also obtain child support through an administrative proceeding that doesn't involve divorce.
Child Support Paperwork in Divorce Case
If filing for a divorce or a legal separation that involves children, a parent must include court forms specifically related to child custody and support. In particular, the divorce filing must include an affidavit that explains any pending custody or visitation issues under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and list all of the children's residences during the past five years. The divorce petition must also include a certificate that explains any pending disputes regarding child support.
Administrative Help to File for Child Support
The Oregon Child Support Program is a state agency that helps parents file for child support through an administrative process rather than go through a family law case. The agency can often help regardless of the parents' marital status. Some parents may choose to establish child support through the agency if they need financial support but have not yet opened a court case for divorce or legal separation. However, for parents who receive public assistance benefits, participation in the support program is mandatory under state law.
Custody, Parenting Time and Calculation of Child Support
Before an agency or court can calculate child support, the parents may need to reach an agreement on custody and visitation, determine custody through a divorce case or file a petition for a child custody determination in the Oregon courts. A custody determination requires a court case separate from the administrative process and the court generally cannot make a decision unless the child has lived in Oregon for at least six months. In Oregon, a parent's right to visitation, known as "parenting time," often affects the amount of child support to be paid. In general, the parent who has the child regularly for a greater number of overnights will receive child support from the other parent. Although some parents may share parenting time equally, differences in parental income may also affect child support calculations. In addition, Oregon support laws allow the court to consider a variety of other factors, including the number of children to be supported, the number of children from other relationships, health care costs and child care expenses.
Modification of Child Support
Once set through a court order for child support or established by the Oregon Child Support Program, child support is a legal obligation until modified or terminated. For example, a parent may need to request a change in the amount of child support during the post-divorce years. In general, a parent cannot successfully request a change to the child support obligation unless a "significant change in circumstances" has occurred. A significant change often relates to an increase or decrease in a parent's income or in the child's needs. However, state law also allows for a modification review if at least three years have passed since the current amount took effect.
References & Resources
- Oregon Courts: Child Support
- Oregon Courts: Divorce, Separation, and Annulment
- Oregon Courts: Child Custody and Parenting Time
- Oregon State Bar: Custody and Parenting Time
- Oregon State Bar: Determining Child and Spousal Support
- Legal Aid Services of Oregon and Oregon Law Center: Family Law in Oregon
- Oregon State Bar: Divorce in Oregon
- Oregon State Bar: What to Do if Child Support or Spousal Support is Not Being Paid
- Oregon State Bar: Financial and Legal Responsibilities of Parents for Their Children
- Oregon Child Support Program: Child Support Timelines
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