The parents of a child have a responsibility to take care of and provide for their child. This applies whether or not they are married. Often, when parents separate, one parent may abandon all the expenses for the other to bear. This is very challenging and can severely affect the quality of life of the child. Therefore, child support laws and enforcement agencies ensure that parents meet up to their obligation to take proper care of their child.
Child Support Process
Child support services in Oregon are available to both custodial and noncustodial parents. Custodial parents who are seeking child support need to create an online profile on the child support website at https://customerportal.oregonchildsupport.gov/userRegistration. Custodial parents can file an application even if the other parent does not reside in Oregon. Parents who wish to file for interstate support can visit https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/services/interstate-child-support-cases/ for more information.
Parents who are applying for support would need to provide details about themselves and the noncustodial parent. This includes full names, phone numbers, residential and mailing addresses, Social Security Numbers (SSN), employment information, etc. The details provided may be useful to move the case forward, especially because the noncustodial parent must be physically served a notice of the child support case. As such the noncustodial parent must first be located. The Oregon Child Support Program offers a parent locator service; this could be done using state or federal resources.
Once the noncustodial parent has been served with the notice, the next step is to establish the paternity of the child. For parents who were married, the husband of the mother is presumed to be the legal father of the child. For unmarried parents, if both parents agree on who the father of the child is, they can both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This form can be accessed at http://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/BIRTHDEATHCERTIFICATES/CHANGEVITALRECORDS/Pages/InstructionsPaternity.aspx and must be signed by both parents. The form is usually filled at the hospital when the child is born, but it could also be filled while preparing to establish the child support case. The mother can also fill a Declaration in Support of Establishing Paternity. This form allows the mother to name a potential father and provide evidence to support her claim. The form can be found at https://justice.oregon.gov/child-support/pdf/csf110112.pdf. In situations where the paternity of the child is debated, the Oregon Child Support Program can carry out a genetic test to determine the paternity of the child. The tests are accurate and can ascertain the paternity of the child with reasonable correctness. If the tests come back showing that the man is the father, a court order is issued, establishing him as the child’s father.
After establishing the child’s paternity, then a case can progress to establishing the actual child support order.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Parents receiving child support have two options available for them to receive their payments. They could either go with Direct deposit or a prepaid debit card. The Direct deposit arrangement allows the parents to receive the funds directly into their bank accounts. For parents to set up Direct deposit payments, they must have a U.S. domestic bank account and fill a Direct Deposit Authorization Form. This form can be obtained at https://justice.oregon.gov/child-support/pdf/csf080700a.pdf.
The other option is the use of a debit card. Oregon provides a U.S. Bank ReliaCard for parents to receive their child support payments. This does not require the parent to have a bank account, and also allows separation of child support funds from other income and expenses. The card can be used like a regular Visa card, to purchase items, withdraw cash, get cashback services, etc. The ReliaCard is the default option for parents who do not fill a Direct Deposit Authorization Form.
For more information on the payment options, visit https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/services/how-to-receive-support/.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support payments may be decided by the parents of the child. If the parents are able to reach a reasonable agreement on how much each of them is responsible for, they can establish a child support order for that amount. However, if they do not agree on a set amount, a court hearing may be requested. During this hearing, an appropriate amount will be determined and established in the child support order. To arrive at this amount, the court considers the income of each parent, the special needs, medical care costs, insurance coverage, number of children, etc. For more information on the guidelines, visit https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/resources-for-applicants/administrative-hearings-process/. The state also hosts a child support calculator online at https://justice.oregon.gov/guidelines/ which can be used to get a general idea of how much may be ordered during the establishment of the order. Parents who feel that the amount that has been determined is unfair, or who are seeking a modification of the payment can modify their existing child support order. More details on this can be found at https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/services/modify-an-existing-child-support-order/.
Enforcement of Child Support
Oregon has several mechanisms in place to ensure that parents meet up to their child support obligations. Collections are usually voluntary, but in some circumstances, alternative means have to be employed to obtain the payments. The enforcement actions that can be taken include:
- Suspending the passport of the noncustodial parent
- Suspending driver’s, occupational and recreational licenses
- Placing a lien on properties
- Intercepting tax refunds to pay for the outstanding support
- Pursuing court action, which may result in jail time, etc.
More information on these enforcement procedures is available at https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/services/enforcement/.