Child support is a parent’s obligation to financially support his or her child. The law assumes when someone has a child that he or she will take care of that child. In a divorce, the court must step in and ensure that both parents maintain this obligation through a child support order. 

Historically, mothers are the ones who receive support and fathers pay it. This is because the law says that the parent who makes the most money must pay support. In the past, the higher earner was often the father. This is no longer true in every case, but mothers are still the majority of payees for support. 

Mothers may have concerns that the support they receive will not be enough to take care of their children. The law is rather specific about calculating child support payments to not only ensure fairness, but to also adequately provide for the children involved. The guidelines for determining support take many factors into consideration to meet these goals. 

Income calculations 

According to the Oregon Department of Justice, the first step in figuring child support is to calculate each parent’s income. Ideally, both parents will be working and have a solid income history the court can use. However, in the event one parent does not work, the court will still calculate an income for him or her using past work history or through projecting possible income based on skills, education, abilities and available jobs. 


Once the court has the income for each parent, it will adjust the income. Adjustments include a cost-of-living deduction, which as of June 2019, was $1,215. It will also deduct the amount of money each parent pays for child care and medical costs. The court also adjusts the income based on the amount of parenting time each parent has. The number of overnight visits will count towards this adjustment. 

When the court reaches the final income totals, that is the amount of child support the higher-earning parent must pay. If the amount is below the minimum limit, which as of February 2020 was $100, then the court will adjust it to be at least the minimum.