Child support can be a confusing and sometimes contentious issue between parents who are faced with the termination of their marriage. Often, divorcing parents confuse child support with spousal support, which is a very different issue. The two topics should not be discussed together as one lump sum but addressed separately. One reason is that modifications of each issue are handled differently and there may be legal ramifications to mixing the issues together. Here are some child support tips for parents who are attempting to work out this issue:
Child Support for Children Ages 18 to 21 (child attending school):
Oregon law concerning children ages 18 to 21 who are in school more than half time is somewhat complicated and governed by statute. Consulting a licensed attorney and working with a collaborative team is important to understand how to meet the child or children’s needs as well as the agreement being approved by a judge. If you just utilize the presumed guideline formula online (https://www.doj.state.or.us/child-support/calculators-forms/child-support-calculator/), it will presume both parents shall pay the college age child cash child support each month. This is not typically what parents desire in my experience. The Collaborative divorce team works with parents, along with a financial advisor when helpful, to construct a written agreement that will meet the child’s recurring and periodic needs. This agreement must be structured in a way that will get the court’s approval as well.
Consider the Specific Needs of Each Child:
Our list of child support tips includes looking at the different categories of the individual child’s needs. This includes considering costs of healthcare, school related, childcare, (where applicable), and extracurricular needs. For example, if a child is involved in sports, takes music lessons, has special needs that require tutoring, or other needs that require funds, we recommend having a list of those items before sitting down to discuss child support. The meeting can be more productive if those costs have been determined prior to the settlement meeting.
Childcare related issues:
When filling out the Oregon child support worksheet, some parents will put in a specific amount for daycare cost. I don’t typically recommend doing that unless parents are not able to communicate or cooperate well. Daycare needs tend to fluctuate, especially in summer months, or with infants, toddlers, or preschoolers, and the amount ordered by the court at one time may be modified when the needs change later. We can discuss alternate ways to apportion childcare costs between parents in a way that meets the family’s goals with less restrictions.
Parenting Time Credit:
One area frequently asked about is how to calculate time a child or children spend with each parent as these ties into the child support guideline amount. I usually start with the question of how much time a child typically spends with each parent when not at school or childcare and try to better understand actual costs the parents are incurring while caring for the child or children. It’s important to better understand the goals and nuances of the family’s parenting plan when talking about this issue instead of going straight to a positional discussion of “how many overnights” does a parent have with a child. The Oregon statute also allows parents (or the court) to look at shorter blocks of time (such as 4 hours) if a better fit to analyze what’s equitable in parenting time percentage.
When a support agreement is modified, that modification must be approved by the court to be enforceable.
Parents do not need to appear in court to have court approval, but they must file the modification legal documents with the court for an enforceable agreement related to child support.
Meeting with a Financial Analyst:
We recommend meeting at least once with a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA). We include a financial professional on our collaborative divorce team. This professional will work with both parents to discuss tax implications, budgeting, or other financial issues that they have not yet considered.
If you have questions about child support settlements, or any other issue concerning divorce or separation, contact one of our Professionals at Bridges Collaborative Divorce Solutions.
Collaborative Attorney & Mediator
Alexander Law, PC
1925 NE Stucki Ave Ste 410
Hillsboro, OR 97006