Difficulties of modifying parenting, custody and support

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Divorce

A parent’s circumstances can change after a court enters a child custody and support order in Oregon. In some cases, it might be possible for the parent to secure an order modifying the court’s child support, spousal support, and custody orders. Modifications of child support, spousal support, and custody can be difficult to obtain without extensive evidence.

Requirements for modifying custody and support orders

Child support orders can be modified either administratively or judicially in Oregon. Administrative modifications go through the Oregon Child Support Program (OCSP) while judicial modifications are heard in the family court with jurisdiction. In both types of child support modifications, the parent seeking the change will need to provide evidence showing a substantial change in circumstances, including one of the following:

  • Significant change in income of 10% or more for a good faith reason or a reason beyond the parent’s control
  • A change in how many overnights the child spends with a parent vs. the existing parenting plan
  • Significant change in the needs of the child
  • Change in the number of children requiring support
  • Either parent has a child born after the entry of the child support order
  • Child placed in the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority since the order was entered

A change in financial circumstances must be for a good faith reason or beyond the parent’s control. The parent who experienced a significant change in financial circumstances will need to present evidence of the income change and that they had a good faith reason for it. For example, the parent might submit evidence that the drop in income was due to a layoff and taking a lower-paying job because they could not obtain one paying the same amount as the previous position. Quitting a job to try to avoid child support will not be sufficient.

Modification process

A parent must file a motion to modify with the court or paperwork with the OCSP to initiate the modification process. This paperwork must be properly served on the other parent so that they can have the chance to respond. The court or OCSP will review the documents and evidence to decide whether to modify the original child support order.

Filing paperwork to request a modification of support does not mean it will be granted. The process can take several months, and the parent should continue to make payments as ordered under the existing order. Arrearages that build up will not disappear even if the modification is granted.