Oregon Child Support Modification: Is It Possible? — DBMA Family Law Group (2022)

Child support in Oregon

As you’re probably already aware, child support is designed to support a child’s needs, and to ensure that each parent is contributing to their child’s well being equitably when that child’s parents no longer share the same home.

In most cases, child support payments are made in monthly installments, the amount of which is determined by a calculation set by the state which takes into account each parent’s individual income, certain costs such as health insurance and childcare expenses, and how many overnights per year the children spend with each parent.

If the child in question spends more than 50% of their time living with a particular parent, then typically that parent would be the recipient of those child support payments from the other parent.

There are exceptions to this, however, particularly in cases where one parent’s income is much higher than the other’s or if the parent with fewer overnights has non-joint children, higher insurance expenses, or higher childcare expenses. Child support payments, generally speaking, are not intended to cover expenses related to childcare or health insurance, the financial obligation of which is typically decided during the child’s custody agreement.

These are just some of the very basic attributes of child support in Oregon, but you might be wondering, “What happens afterward?” “What are my options to modify the arrangement?” “Does child support last indefinitely, or does it automatically end when my child reaches the age of 18?”

Let’s go over those questions and more in greater detail.

Can you modify a child support arrangement in Oregon?

First things first: modifying a child support arrangement in Oregon is possible, but is not guaranteed. There is a process for determining a modification, and it can be done in two ways: (1) judicially or (2) administratively. Either way, child support can be modified in two circumstances: (1) if it has been at least 36 months since the initial order was entered, or (2) if you can show a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances since that support agreement was made.

Judicial review of child support means that the court will review the terms of your support agreement.

Administrative review of child support means that the Oregon Child Support Program (OCSP) reviews the terms of your support agreement.

Substantial changes that are considered in both judicial and administrative modifications of child support can include but are not limited to:

The judicial review process to request a modification is much the same as the one used to create your original child support order. This means paperwork must be completed and filed with the Court and any associated fees must be paid to the Court before the case can move forward.

The administrative review process to request a modification does not require any fees or filing any pleadings with the Court. You will need to fill out forms from OCSP and provide documents to the agency to support any asserted changes (e.g. pay stubs and tax returns, if you are claiming a change in income).

All told, the average timeline for child support modification is about 90 to 120 days. Note that this is the administrative timeline. It does not mean that at the end of this time period that you will be awarded your desired outcome, nor is it the same timeline for a judicial review, which is much less standardized.

The judicial review process might go faster than the administrative review process, or it could take longer. Many variables can impact timing, including Court scheduling, how long it takes for the other party to file a Response, and whether the matter goes to hearing or you reach a settlement with the other party.

Another important thing: Do you or the other parent live out of state? If so, make sure that you’re requesting the modification in the state that can actually modify the order. In most circumstances, unless you have registered your judgment in the state in which you live, the state that issued the judgment you want to modify will be the state that modifies the judgment.

What does the child support modification process look like?

Child support modification requests usually look like this:

  1. The requesting parent will file a Motion to Modify Child Support in their county or by submitting forms to OCSP.

    1. For cases filed with the Court, the non-requesting party will then have 30 days to file a Response, after which the Court will set a hearing date.

    2. For cases filed for administrative review, OCSP will assess the request while notifying the other parent of the request for modification. During this time, OCSP will do its due diligence in order to verify pertinent information, including requesting any necessary additional information and documents related to each party’s financial and household status.

  2. In administrative cases, after confirming each party’s information, OCSP will issue a proposed modification. Each parent will receive a copy of the proposed modification.

    1. Once each parent has received the proposed modification, they have the opportunity to agree to the terms, make corrections to certain details, or request that the court hold a hearing on the matter.

    2. If neither parent contacts OCSP regarding the modification within 30 days of being served, then OCSP will finalize the request 34 days after service.

    3. If either party requests a review of the modification, OCSP will schedule an Administrative Hearing, where both parties appear by telephone with an Administrative Law Judge to answer questions and provide information regarding their positions on the modification.

  3. In judicial review cases, after setting a hearing, the parties have an opportunity to use the time between filing and the day of hearing to attempt to reach an agreement. If no agreement is reached, the parties will appear, with their attorneys if they are represented, for a hearing on why a modification should or should not be entered with the Court.

  4. Corrections, hearings, and the like may elongate the timeline of the request being finalized.

The effective date of a modified child support order is usually the first of the month after the date the proposed order was served on the other (non-requesting) parent. This means that if the amount due goes up, there will be a past-due amount (an arrearage) and if the amount due goes down, the paying parent will have a credit on their account for the difference between the new and old amounts. Sometimes, the paying party and receiving party will reverse, and the OCSP will in those cases open a new account but the agency will not issue a refund or credit for amounts paid in the past.

Does child support automatically end at 18?

Often, child support does end when the child turns 18, but not always. There are exceptions to this. In fact, child support can continue until the child in question reaches the age of 21, if that child is considered a “Child Attending School” (CAS). A CAS is defined as a child between the ages of 18 and 21 who has graduated high school and is enrolled at least half-time (as the school they are enrolled in defines “half-time”) in a college, university, community college, or trade school. The summer between high school and higher education is a grace period during which payments continue. A child who plans to enroll in higher education must fill out forms from the OCSP to ensure that payments continue past their 18th birthday. Payments to a CAS are made directly to the CAS, and not to the recipient parent.

Additionally, child support will end if the child in question is emancipated, marries, joins the military, does not provide information required to determine their Child Attending School status, graduates from higher education prior to turning 21, or does not respond to a paying parent’s legal objection to payment.

Have more questions about child support modification? Looking for legal guidance? Contact DBMA Family Law TODAY for your confidential consultation, so you can get the information and support you deserve!

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