Enforcing your child support order can be a challenge if you share a child with a deadbeat parent. However, there is good news for Oregon parents on the non-receiving end of child support. A deadbeat parent who fails to pay the full amount of child support every month may be subject to restrictions and other penalties aimed at collecting support, including "contempt," which can mean significant fines and even jail time.
This article provides a general overview of how to establish and enforce your child support order in Oregon. If after reading this article you have questions about enforcing a child support order, contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Divorce or separation is never easy; however, it can be even trickier for parents who need to establish child support. Although both parents are required to financially support their child, typically one parent will spend less time with the child and be required to pay child support. The parent required to pay child support is typically called the obligor or non-custodial parent.
The amount of monthly child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent is largely dependent upon the parents' respective incomes. For more information on how child support is calculated, see Child Support in Oregon. A child support order will list the amount of child support to be paid each month. These orders must be obeyed as long as the child support order exists or until the child reaches the age of majority.
Oregon's Division of Child Support (DCS) assists parents who need to establish a child support order. Read the Child Support Brochure for more information about the services provided by Oregon's DCS. Additionally, the DCS provides services to enforce current child support orders, to locate a parent or to establish paternity. DCS's services require a $25 annual fee and $1 application fee unless you qualify for a fee waiver.
Registering a child support order with DCS allows payments to be deducted each month from the paying parent's wages or paycheck. In cases where the paying parent is self-employed, DCS can withhold child support from that parent's unemployment payments, Worker's Compensation funds, Social Security benefits or veteran's disability benefits.
If child support is not being paid in violation of an existing child support order, a custodial parent may file a court action to enforce the child support order. An attorney can assist by filing the required paperwork and attending the child support enforcement hearing.
Parents that are unable to afford an attorney have two options. First, they can try to represent themselves in court and ask a judge to enforce a child support order. The forms needed to file a child support enforcement action, also called an Order to Show Cause, are generally available in hard copy form at the local county courthouse. Once the enforcement paperwork has been filed and properly delivered to the non-custodial parent, the court will hold a hearing.
The following article, What is a Show Cause Hearing explains how to prepare for your hearing. If you have additional questions, you should contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Alternatively, custodial parents seeking overdue child support can go to your their local DCS office and ask for help enforcing a child support order.
DCS and family law judges in Oregon have a variety of tools available for enforcing child support and collecting overdue payments. These include:
In addition to the above enforcement tools, a judge may find that a parent who willfully refuses to pay child support should be held in contempt of court. Contempt is essentially a declaration by the court that the parent has disobeyed a court order. A parent found in contempt may be ordered to pay monetary fines and/or spend time in jail.
If you have additional questions about how to enforce a child support order in Oregon, contact an experienced family law attorney for assistance.
For more information on the enforcement of child support orders in Oregon and to read the relevant child support statute, see Oregon Revised Statutes, Title 2, Chapter 25.010 et seq.