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How to Get Child Support

  • CSP: the acronym for the Oregon Child Support Program. This is a government program that provides free help to parents with getting or paying child support.  
  • DA: the acronym for district attorney. In Oregon, the district attorney usually handles criminal cases. But in some counties, they also help parents with child support cases.  
  • Child support: a monthly payment that one parent pays to another parent to help with expenses for the child, such as food, clothing, housing, childcare, health care, and other costs.  
  • Child support order: a legal document from a court or from the Oregon Child Support Program that requires a parent to pay child support. 
  • Legal parent: a person who the government recognizes as a legal parent. You don’t have to go through a court case to be a legal parent! Many parents are automatically the legal parents to their children:  
    • Married parents: You’re automatically a legal parent to any children born to your or your spouse during your marriage or within 300 days after you get divorced, even if the child isn’t biologically yours.   
    • Unmarried mothers: You’re automatically a legal parent to any child you give birth to (unless you’re a surrogate).  
    • Unmarried fathers: You’re a legal parent if your name is on your child’s birth certificate, you sign an official form saying you are the father, or if you have a court or agency order that says you’re the legal father. 

  • Married parents who are separated or going through a divorce, and 
  • Unmarried parents.

Yes. It’s a good idea to have a child support order. Things could change. If you only have a promise or private agreement, that’s not enough for the court to help you get the other parent to pay.

There are several ways to get a child support order: 

  1. Through a court case:   
    • Married parents: When you file for divorce, you can ask for child support through your divorce case. For more information on divorce, go to this page.  
    • Unmarried parents: You can ask for child support through a custody case. For more information on custody, go to this page.   
  2. Ask the CSP to do it for you. The CSP helps parents get and pay child support. In some counties and situations, your case may be referred to a DA's office who handles child support, but you can still start by applying with the CSP. CSP’s services are free. 

In Oregon, child support is based on a standard child support calculator. The Oregon child support calculator is an online tool that Oregon judges, lawyers, child support workers, and other professionals use to figure out the amount of child support for a child and which parent should pay child support.

Child support is based on several things, including: 

  1. Each parent’s income;  
  2. Childcare costs;  
  3. The number of nights a child spends at each parent’s house;  
  4. Health insurance costs for the parents and child; 
  5. The total number of children each parent has (including non-joint children); and
  6. Whether a parent gets disability benefits or veteran’s benefits. 

In most cases, the parent who has the child most of the time will get support from the other parent. But this isn’t always the rule. Child support is based on more than just the parenting time schedule (see the question above). 

Not necessarily. The child support rules assume that all parents can work. If you aren’t working, a judge or the CSP can assume that you make minimum wage income when they do the calculation.

  • If you ask for child support through the CSP, you can tell your CSP caseworker to keep your information private. You don’t have to talk to the other parent to get child support through the CSP. The CSP can handle all the paperwork for you. Child support payments will go through the CSP.   
  • If you ask for child support in a divorce or custody case, you don’t have to use your personal address or phone number on your court paperwork. You can use a PO Box or another safe contact address. This could be a friend or family member’s address. After you get a child support order, the CSP can help you get child support so you don't have to talk to the other parent. 

For more information on asking the CSP to keep your information private, go here.

Yes. But it may take longer. That’s because the CSP or DA may have to work with agencies in the other state.

Maybe. The CSP or DA can try to help you find the other parent. If they can find the other parent, they will try to help you get child support from that parent. For more information on locating a parent and how to help the CSP find a parent, go here.

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