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Employment-Related Child Support Modifications in Oregon

In response to the current economic crisis, the Oregon Child Support Program has instituted a streamlined process by which parents who have lost jobs or are receiving less income may request a modification of their monthly child support obligation. The process is only available in cases in which there is an ongoing support order in place and not for cases involving only past due support. It is also only available for parents whose cases are being handled by the Oregon Child Support Program.

In Oregon’s program, either parent may request a modification based on loss of employment or reduction in income, and a modification may be granted for six months.

The first step in Oregon’s process is to contact both parents and attempt to work out an agreement; the fastest way to receive a modification. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parents as to the new terms, the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is used to hear the cases. The OAH hears cases much faster than traditional modifications, and an “employment-related modification” is usually final within 45 days.

An employment-related modification is different from a traditional modification because it is based solely on an employment-related change in circumstances. Traditional modifications may be based on other factors, such as permanent changes in a parent’s ability to earn income, changes in custody, adding a child to an order, or any other non-employment-related change.

Additionally, traditional modifications may take months to complete and become permanent changes in the ongoing support amount until they are modified again. A modification based upon a change in employment is effective for six months, but may be requested again at the end of the six months if the parent has not yet found a job. If the parent is re-employed or finds a new job, he should contact the child support office where he received the modification to see if the child support amount should be increased back to the prior amount.

This streamlined process is designed to ensure that children who need support are taken care of financially, even when parents lose jobs or receive reductions in pay, and parents who seek modifications must decide which type they are seeking. In any case, it is best to discuss the situation with an experienced family law attorney to see which option is best for you.