Child support is money one parent must pay to the other parent (or directly to the child if over 18 and that child qualifies as a "child attending school") for the care, support, education and welfare of the parties’ children. Oregon policy has established that both parents have an obligation to support their minor children. Generally speaking, public policy usually requires that a noncustodial parent pay some child support, even in situations where the custodial parent can adequately support the children without the help of the noncustodial parent.
Child support can be established through (a) an administrative proceeding filed by the state of Oregon, (b) through a paternity action filed by a party, (c) in a petition for custody action between unmarried parents, (d) or in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. In all cases, including a divorce (dissolution of marriage proceeding), child support is established by using the state’s Uniform Child Support Guidelines. Oregon has created these guidelines to establish presumptive correct support awards. The Oregon Department of Justice - Child Support Division has created an online calculator to best estimate the level of support that is the presumptive amount. Links to the calculator and these guidelines can be found here. The presumed amount is generally followed unless specific findings are made that the amount is unjust and not appropriate based on the facts of the particular case. Rebutting the presumed amount is often difficult and assistance from a knowledgeable family law attorney usually is advised.
In establishing the appropriate amount of child support, the income of both parties will have to be determined. To establish a party’s income, a judge will look at all earnings, income and resources of that party. This includes salaries, wages, commissions, advances, bonuses, dividends, Social Security, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits and all other sources of income. If a party has no income, that party’s income will be based on “potential” income. Judges have in the past presumed that, barring certain extraordinary circumstances, everyone can earn full-time at the lowest current minimum wage in Oregon. Full-time minimum wage is the current minimum wage
Typically, the party with more overnights with the child will receive child support from the party with fewer overnights. Child support is generally payable even if the parties have joint legal custody and 50/50 shared parenting, so long as there is a difference between the parents’ incomes. Generally, the party with the greater income will bear a greater portion of the financial burden to support children. The ordered amount of child support can be modified when there is a change in the parties’ financial circumstances.