Child support is an important topic when divorcing couples have children under age 21. Parents have a lot of questions about why it must be paid and what the funds will be used for. One of the advantages of the Collaborative Divorce process is how we assist our clients so that they have a better understanding of the many facets of child support. First, we try to better understand a family’s goals, needs, and budgets. We can then collaborate to create an individual plan that will work for the entire family and that will be approved by the court.
Oregon Law, Child Support, and Creative Solutions
According to Oregon law, it is mandatory for parents to fill out a child support worksheet with the Uniform Child Support Guidelines formula attached to their paperwork. If a child support order is left up to a trial court judge, it will be limited to considering only incomes, spousal support (if any), work-related childcare, percentage of time-sharing with kids, health insurance premiums, and the base amount of child support itself. This does not always meet a family’s needs or goals.
There are ways we can personalize the plan and provide the court with more details. We talk about the children’s specific needs and family budgets. There are different categories of expenses to consider when working to establish a monthly child support sum. For example, we take into account:
- Special interests of the children, like swimming lessons, piano lessons, and other extracurricular activities.
- Whether private school tuition is desired.
- How sharing flexible time with the children might impact child support in a way that honors co-parenting, with a customized plan that fits both parent’s budgets.
- What the long-term goals of parents and children are ~ Are they interested in establishing a college fund, or continuing to fund an already established plan?
- Whether they want a more comprehensive healthcare plan than one required by the court.
- Whether they agree that one parent should stay home to care for young children.
- Determining resources and routine expenses (including tuition which may only come up once a year)
Our collaborative teams often use budget-based software called Family Law Software that has a lot of tools for us to use in assisting families who will now have two households to run on the same income they used to use for just one household. We want to be sure the plan we settle on is one that is going to meet the needs of the parents and the children.
To learn more about how to structure your child support agreement through the Collaborative Divorce process, contact Tonya Alexander at Alexander Law, PC at 503.531.9109 or her legal assistant, Cindy, for more information.