Oregon Unpaid Child Support Penalties
By Marilyn Lindblad
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Providing for a child's needs can be especially challenging for a single parent, especially when the parent isn't receiving regular child support payments. A child's need for shelter, transportation, food and clothing doesn't change just because a parent stops paying support. The Oregon Child Support Program can help a recipient parent collect child support. Oregon penalties for unpaid child support help motivate parents to stay current with their child support obligations.
Mandatory Income Withholding
Income withholding — mandatory employer-made deductions from the paying parent's paycheck — are the primary method for paying child support in Oregon. However, a judge can grant an exception from withholding to a parent who demonstrates that withholding is not in the best interests of the child. The exception is only available to parents who are current with their child support payments. If a parent falls behind in making child-support payments, the court will issue a mandatory wage-withholding child support order to the paying parent's employer. Income the paying parent receives from unemployment and workers' compensation is also subject to wage withholding.
Interception of Funds
The State of Oregon Child Support Program can intercept funds a delinquent payer would otherwise be entitled to receive. For example, if the paying parent gets a federal or state income tax refund, state authorities divert the refund from the taxpayer to the parent to whom support is owed. If the delinquent payer's child received public assistance, support authorities may allocate the tax refund to the state of Oregon to reimburse taxpayers for supporting the child. State authorities can also garnish a payer's bank account and place liens on property, such as land or vehicles, as a means of collecting past-due child support.
If a parent who owes past child support holds a license issued by the state of Oregon or a county government in Oregon, the state can suspend the license until child support payments are current. The state can also seize a parent's U.S. passport if child support is in arrears. License suspensions can affect a parent's driver's license or a recreational license for hunting or fishing. Suspensions also apply to licenses for trades, such as general contracting, hair styling and real estate sales. Professional licenses to practice in fields such as medicine, dentistry or law can also be denied or suspended for individuals who do not support their children.
Contempt of Court
Arguably the most severe penalty for not paying child support is a judge's finding of contempt of court, usually reserved for a parent who has the means to pay child support but refuses to do so. An Oregon child support judgment is a court order that a parent must obey or risk civil and criminal penalties. Willful disobedience of a court order is criminal behavior that Oregon courts cannot tolerate, as disobedience is an affront to the court's authority. An Oregon judge can order a parent to serve time in jail as punishment for disobeying an order to pay child support .
Marilyn Lindblad practices law on the west coast of the United States. She has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her work has appeared on various websites. Lindblad received her Juris Doctor from Lewis and Clark Law School.