September 24, 2008

Child Support Confusion

As a Portland Oregon divorce law firm, Stephens & Margolin LLP is dedicated to keeping up to date on Oregon Court of Appeals and Oregon Supreme Court opinions. As a service of The Oregon Divorce Blog, we will be providing updates as new opinions come out.

On September 24, 2008, the Oregon Court of Appeals published an opinion in South and South, in which the court wrote a not so helpful opinion about child support.  The case did not do much to assist lawyers or clients in dealing with child support issues.  It does give guidance to judges to make clear rulings with detailed facts about any deviation from the presumed amount of child support.

In South, the court confirmed that a party should be imputed an upward adjustment of income if his/her income is tax free.  Since the child support calculator uses “gross income” to determine support levels, it would give a party an unfair advantage to receive tax free income.

The court also ruled that the trial court had to explain why it decided to reduce the amount of support from the presumed amount pursuant to the calculator.  The parties likely spent thousands of dollars fighting over a few hundred dollars of monthly support.  Depending upon the age of the child, that could have been a financially wasteful decision.

Child support in Oregon can be complicated and it is important that parties to a child support case obtain competent legal counsel.  As this opinion shows, even judges often get it wrong.

You can review the full opinion in South and South at

If you have any questions about Oregon appellate law please contact Daniel Margolin or C. Sean Stephens at Stephens & Margolin LLP