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Manual > 10 - Mediating Support Issues > Child Support > Oregon Guideline Model

Oregon Guideline Model
(do not rely on this as a statement of the current law)
Determining Income Under the Oregon Child Support Guidelines

Under the Oregon child support guidelines, the first key determination is that of "gross income." Such income generally includes income from any source, including, but not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, advances, forgiveness of indebtedness, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, honoraria, trust income, annuities, return on capital, social security benefits, workers' compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, prizes, and alimony or separate maintenance received. Benefits received from public assistance programs including Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), supplemental security income (SSI), food stamps and general assistance are also typically included in "gross income." Child support is itself, however, not considered to be gross income.

"Gross income" also includes income from self-employment, rents, royalties, proprietorship of a business, or joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation. In the private business context, gross income is generally defined as gross receipts minus costs of goods sold minus ordinary and necessary expenses required for self-employment or business operation. Specifically excluded form ordinary and necessary expenses may be amounts allowable by the Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses and investment tax credits. Expense reimbursement or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or the operation of a business are typically to be counted as income if they are significant and reduce personal living expenses.

There is also a concept of "potential income" under most state child support regulation. Typically, if a parent is unemployed, employed on less than a full-time basis or there is no direct evidence of any income, child support shall be calculated based upon a determination of potential income. For purposes of this determination, there is often a rebuttable presumption that a parent can be gainfully employed on a full-time basis. Determination of potential income may be made according to one of two methods: (1) employment potential and probable earnings are based upon a parent's recent work history, occupational qualifications, or prevailing job opportunities and earning levels in the community; or (2) the amount of potential income shall not be less than full-time work (40 hours per week) at the current state minimum wage.

Note that the amount of any pre-existing or concurrently entered court-ordered spousal support is deducted from the gross income of the parent obligated to pay such spousal support and to be included in determining the adjusted gross income of the parent entitled to receive spousal support.  

Determining the Basic Child Support Obligation in Oregon

Under the child support guidelines, the parents' combined basic child support obligation is determined by their combined adjusted gross incomes. In Oregon, the parents' total child support obligation is determined from a table and then added in to this amount are day-time child care costs and any directly incurred costs for medical insurance and uninsured medical expenses.

Many states, like Oregon, have different formulas for determining support under situations of "regular custody," "shared custody" or "split custody." For example, within the context of the shared physical custody rule in Oregon (where each party has a child at least 35% of overnights, the parents' basic child support obligation from the calculation table is multiplied by a factor of 1.5 in recognition of the fact that it costs more to equip two households to be fully capable of taking care of a child than it costs to have one home for the child. Similar considerations are given to situations of "split custody" (where one child lives predominantly with one parent and another child lives predominantly with the other parent).

A Rebuttable Presumption

Under the Oregon child support guidelines, the amount calculated as child support is presumed to be the correct amount. This presumption may be rebutted by a finding that the amount is unjust or inappropriate based upon specifically defined criteria. The criteria for rebutting the presumed child support amount in Oregon are as follow:

Bases for Rebuttal in Oregon

  • Evidence of the other available resources of the parent.
  • The reasonable necessities of the parent.
  • The net income of the parent remaining after withholdings required by law or as a condition of employment.
  • A parent's ability to borrow.
  • The number and needs of other dependents of a parent.
  • The special hardships of a parent.
  • The special needs of the child.
  • The desirability of the custodial parent remaining in the home as a full-time parent and homemaker.
  • The tax consequences, if any, to both parents resulting from spousal support awarded and determination of which parent will name the child as a dependent; the formula presumes the custodial parent will have the tax exemption allowed for the child(ren).
  • The financial advantage afforded a parent's household by the income of a spouse or another person with whom the parent lives in a relationship similar to husband and wife.
  • The financial advantage afforded a parent's household by benefits of employment including, but not limited to, those provided by a family owned corporation or self-employment.
  • Evidence that a child who is subject to the support order is not living with either parent or is a "child attending school" as defined in ORS 107.108.
  • Prior findings in a judgment, order, decree or settlement agreement that the existing support award was made in consideration of other property, debt or financial awards.
  • The net income of the parent remaining after payment of financial obligations mutually incurred.
  • The tax free or adverse tax effect of a party's income or benefits.
  • The return of capital.

In Oregon, if the child support presumption is rebutted, a written finding on the record needs to be made that the presumed amount is unjust or inappropriate. That finding must recite the amount that under the guidelines that is presumed to be correct, with the reason(s) why the order varies from the guidelines amount.

Child Care and Medical Costs

In Oregon, an amount equal to the annualized monthly out-of-pocket child care costs, less any federal and child care credit and any subsidy incurred and payable on behalf of joint children which are due to employment or job search of either parent, are added to the basic child support obligation, so long as they are reasonable. Child care costs required for active job search and child care costs required to allow the custodial parent to obtain training and/or education necessary to obtain a job are allowable on the same basis as costs required in connection with employment.

The basic child support obligation may also be increased by a reasonable amount in recognition of recurring medical costs or costs of medical insurance incurred on behalf of children by the custodial parent. Such an increase is allowable only to the extent that such medical costs are not paid by health or other insurance.

Understanding that additional amounts may be added to the basic child support obligation for work related child-care, medical insurance and medical costs, it is also common for divorcing parties to have "side agreements" on these items, such as that they shall proportionally pay for such additional costs, with a monthly, quarterly or other accounting.

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