Child support is one of the most contentious issues most co-parents face. It can also be one of the most confusing. If you need a support order in Oregon, you probably have plenty of questions.
While every family is different, the basic structure of support claims remains the same. We’ve broken down the process and answered five of the most common Oregon child support questions we receive. Have you ever wondered, “How does Oregon child support work?” If so, you should keep reading and learn what you should know about child support.
1. Parentage Is Required for Child Support
Child support is a payment from one recognized parent to the other to ensure their shared kids are financially secure. However, these orders can only be issued when there are at least two legally recognized parents. This means that parentage, or paternity, must be confirmed before payments can be ordered.
If parents are married when they welcome a child into the family, parentage is automatically granted to both. This is true whether they have a baby or adopt. Regardless of the parents’ genders or the identity of the biological father, both married people are placed on the child’s birth or adoption certificate.
However, if a couple is not married, paternity must be established. The non-gestational parent can voluntarily accept paternity with the other person’s consent. Otherwise, either parent can file a paternity claim to request genetic testing and confirm or deny a biological relationship. Once parentage is determined, both parents have the same rights and responsibilities to pay or receive funding.
2. Only the Court Can Order Support
Many unmarried co-parents do not have support orders in place. These families often live together and share financial responsibilities for their children without question. However, in these cases, there is no court order requiring either party to commit a certain amount of their income toward caring for the children. If either parent chooses to halt their financial care, there is no immediate recourse for the other person.
If informal agreements break down like this, pursuing a legal order may be necessary. Only Oregon family courts can create these orders. Once they go into place, both parents are legally obligated to follow their terms, including making payments on time and using the funds to care for the kids.
Furthermore, once orders are implemented, they can only be changed by the court. Informal agreements between parents are not permitted. If co-parents wish to alter their order, they must return to court and request a post-judgment modification. Otherwise, if the paying parent does not continue to meet the original order’s standards, they could face significant legal penalties.
3. Support Doesn’t Require a Custody or Divorce Case
Many people assume that child support is tied to divorce or custody cases, but this is untrue. Any parents can request orders for their children. You may request an order through an administrative process if you have established parentage over the child.
In most cases, legally married parents do not need to request these orders. However, they can still ask for an order if they struggle to fairly divide financial responsibilities for their kids. For example, couples that are separated informally or legally may request an order to provide binding requirements for both parents.
Similarly, unmarried parents can request support orders even if they do not want a custody order. For instance, many parents have no problem determining where their kids stay on a daily basis. However, they may need more structure to ensure they divide their financial responsibilities equitably. They can request support alone to receive that structure without constraining their parenting plans.
4. Payments Are Determined by an Oregon State Calculator
One of the most common questions we receive is, “How is child support determined by the state of Oregon?” The court uses an official calculator built on the state’s guidelines to account for a family’s individual needs and determine who should pay and how much.
This calculator takes multiple factors into account, such as:
- Each parent’s respective income
- Their current financial obligations, such as alimony
- How many children the parents share
- How much time the kids spend with each parent
With all these matters accounted for, the calculator estimates the amount one parent should pay. In many cases, this number is the final amount ordered by the court. However, judges have the discretion to alter this amount if extraneous circumstances are not included in the calculator. For example, parents caring for children with significant health needs may require more financial assistance, so the judge could increase the support amount ordered.
5. Orders Can Be Modified
Child support orders often last for a decade or more. As such, it’s not unusual for life circumstances to change and parents to need more or less assistance. You can request a post-judgment modification to update your order in these cases.
Suppose you initially were ordered to make payments because your co-parent earned significantly less than you. If their income rises to meet or exceed your own, they may no longer need your financial assistance to care for your kids. You can petition for a post-judgment modification to re-evaluate your order and rebalance who must pay and how much.
Prepare for Your Support Claim in Salem, Oregon
Extra financial assistance can make all the difference in how well your kids can be raised. If you have any questions or concerns about requesting support, contact Stacy Regele of Regele Law Firm, LLC. Our Salem, Oregon, family law firm is dedicated to helping parents care for their children. Schedule your consultation today to learn more about how we can represent you and provide legal counsel and tips for child support in Oregon.