Child Support Arrearage Laws for Oregon

By Beverly Bird

Hand with American dollars

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In 2009, Oregon began taking a notably tough stance against parents who willfully refuse to pay child support; the Department of Justice arrested 21 non-custodial parents and subsequently collected more than $530,000 for their families. If you owe child support arrearages, although incarceration is usually Oregon's last resort to convince you to pay up, it can happen. Judgments for child support in this state are enforceable for 35 years after the date of your divorce decree, if your decree includes provisions for child support. Otherwise, the time begins running from the date of your support order.

Oregon's Child Support Guidelines

Like the majority of states, Oregon calculates child support based on the income shares model. The model works to ensure your child enjoys the same standard of living he would have if you and your spouse hadn't divorced. The state sets aside a percentage of your combined incomes for your children, and each of you must contribute to that percentage based on how much of the combined income total you earn. The custodial parent pays her share by directly paying for the children's needs. The non-custodial parent makes a cash payment to the custodial parent for his share.

The Role of the State

Oregon's Division of Child Support oversees the state's efforts to collect child support arrearages through the state's Child Support Program. DCS and its Child Support Program operate under Oregon's Department of Justice. The Child Support Program monitors payments on all support orders paid through state services and can initiate collection and other efforts when a parent falls behind.

Collection Measures

The Federal Tax Refund Offset Program requires all states to notify the Internal Revenue Service when a non-custodial parent falls $500 behind in his child support payments. The limit drops to $150 if your children receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The IRS will divert your tax refund to Oregon's Child Support Program so the state can collect your arrears from the payment. DCS will also report your delinquency to credit agencies. If you own property, it can place liens against it, preventing you from selling or borrowing against it until you pay your child support arrearages. The state can seize inherited assets, insurance proceeds, lottery winnings and even cash assets, such as bank or investment accounts.

Punitive Provisions

If Oregon can't secure your child support arrearages from your assets or cash sources for some reason, such as if you've taken steps to avoid it, the Child Support Program has other options. It can ask the court to obligate you to post bond. This involves placing assets or cash in the custody of the state. If you continue to fail to make support payments, you'll forfeit the bond money or asset. The state will also suspend any licenses you have, including your driver's license, recreational licenses, and even professional licenses if the field you work in requires one. Your passport may be revoked, or if you apply for one, your request could be denied. The state will not authorize release of your passport until you pay all arrearages in full. Typically, you must fall at least $2,500 behind before the state will resort to these measures. A slight exception exists for revocation of licenses; the limit for this enforcement measure is $2,500 or three months' support, whichever is greater.