New Changes in Child Support Laws

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As of July 1, 2013, changes to the Oregon Child Support Guidelines took effect and may have significant impact on the amount of support you provide or receive. With these new rules, some parents will have an opportunity to adjust what they pay to their ex-spouses.  Here are four important changes to note:

(1) Income: Under the old guidelines, the contribution of parents who were unemployed or employed less than full-time was calculated as if they were earning Oregon’s minimum wage at full-time.  The new guidelines first look at the parent’s actual income, then, if necessary, at his or her potential income.  Potential income is what the parent could earn based on factors such as work history, occupational qualifications, health, and employment opportunities in the community. If the parent’s actual income is less than his or her potential income, then the support calculation may be based off of the potential income. This change means that the parent earning the higher wage could see a reduction in his or her support obligation if the other parent is not working at his or her employment potential.

(2) Parenting Time Credit: Under the old guidelines, a non-custodial parent could receive a child support credit if he or she had the child overnight for at least 25% of the time. However, under the new guidelines parenting time credit is based on a graduated curve, beginning with a .07% credit for one overnight. For parents who already split the parenting time 50/50, the new guidelines won’t change the support calculation.Non-custodial parents who have their children overnight fewer than 92 nights during the year (or 25% of the time), will now receive credit for each overnight stay and will see a reduction in their child support calculation.

(3) Health Insurance: The old guidelines required that both parents carry health insurance for their children if it was available at a reasonable cost.  Under the new guidelines, if healthcare coverage is available to both parents, the parent who has more parenting time may choose which health plan will be used. If the parents have equal parenting time and do not agree on an insurance policy, the one with the lower out-of-pocket premium will be ordered.

(4) Cash Medical Support: The old guidelines ordered a parent to pay cash medical support if that parent was not providing health insurance for the children.  Under the new guidelines, an order for cash medical support is not required as long as one parent is providing the healthcare coverage.  Instead, such support is ordered only when neither parent has available healthcare coverage.

Child support calculations can be complicated and parents may not know how they could be affected by these changes.  Be sure to speak with your attorney about the new rules to learn how they might impact the child support payments you make or receive.