Friday, September 13, 2013

Oregon's Revised Child Support Guidelines - What You Need to Know



For anyone paying or receiving child support in Oregon, be aware that significant changes to the Child Support Guidelines became effective July 1, 2013. These guidelines are used to determine how much money parents should contribute as child support for their children's care. By federal law, every four years each state must conduct a review to ensure their child support formula results in appropriate orders. This time around one of our own attorneys, Kelly Evans, served on the Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Committee was tasked with making recommendations for the new guidelines. It included twenty representatives of the bench, bar, academia, partner agencies, and the Child Support Program. GMLH is proud of the hard work and long hours put in by Kelly and the Committee. Here are a few highlights of the new guideline changes:

(1) Medical Coverage: The guidelines now allow the parent who has more parenting time to choose which health plan will be used if healthcare coverage is available to both parents. If the parents have equal parenting time but cannot agree on a policy, the policy with the lowest out of pocket premium will be chosen. An order for cash medical support is no longer required as long as one parent is providing healthcare coverage for the children at the time of the order. Cash medical support will only be ordered when neither parent has healthcare coverage available. The monthly cost for the health insurance premium is now shared between the parents proportionate to their incomes as part of the child support calculation.

(2) New Parenting Time Credit: The old guidelines required that a parent have 92 overnights per year with their child (a 25% threshold) before they were given any credit under the financial support calculation. The new guidelines do not require a threshold number of overnights. A percentage of the credit is awarded beginning from the first overnight, using a graduated curve. This creates low credit amounts for lower numbers of overnights and closer to equal credits toward 50% overnights. It is hoped that eliminating a threshold number of overnights before the parenting time credit kicks in will reduce the number of heated arguments over adding or deleting "just one more" overnight.

(3) Child Attending School: The new guidelines specify that a "child attending school" (essentially an 18 – 21 year old who is still successfully in school) is not included in the calculation used to determine the parenting time credit. Under the previous guideline rules, the child attending school was treated similarly to his minor-aged siblings for parenting time credit calculation purposes. The new rule applies unless the child is 18-years old, attending high school, and still living with a parent. The final support amount is still divided between all the parties' children, including any who qualify as a child attending school.

(4) New Income: The previous guidelines presumed that for child support calculation purposes a parent was capable of earning full time minimum wage if unemployed, employed less than full-time, or when there was no evidence of any income. The new guidelines start with actual income and then add potential income where the parents' earning's history and present ability support it, based on opportunities available in the community. There is a default to minimum wage only when there is no information about the parent's wage history.

We at Gevurtz Menashe are expert at traversing the Oregon child support guidelines. We welcome the opportunity to help your family navigate through the stress of establishing or modifying child support.

Written by Paige De Muniz, Associate.