2009 Legislature Updates – Child support

I. CHILD SUPPORT

B. HB 2272 (ch 351) Medical Support

HB 2272 amends several statutes relating to medical support and child support enforcement and conforms Oregon law to federal requirements.

Definitions for ORS 25.321 to 25.343

HB 2272 section 1 revises ORS 25.321 by changing and creating new definitions as used in ORS 25.321 to 25.343. Important definitions include:

  • “Medical support” means cash medical support and health care coverage.
  • “Cash medical support” is an amount one parent is ordered to pay to defray the cost of health care coverage provided by the other parent or to defray uninsured medical expenses.

NOTE: This language differs from the prior definition of this concept in the 2007 version of ORS 25.321(6) that included health care coverage provided by a public body.

• “Health care coverage” is defined as providing and paying for the medical needs of a child through an insurance policy, including medical assistance provided by a public body.

Health Care Coverage

HB 2272 revises ORS 25.323 to provide that:

  • every child support order include a medical support clause;
  • a medical support clause must require one or both parents to provide private health care coverage if available;
  • if private health coverage is not available, the order must 1) require one or both parents to provide health coverage when it becomes available and 2) either require the payment or cash medical support or include findings on why it has not been required;
  • a medical support order may not order a providing party to pay cash medical support if the providing party’s income is equal to or less than the Oregon minimum wage for full-time employment; and
  • cash medical support and the cost of other medical support constitute a child support obligation and must be included in child support calculations.

Medical Support Notice

HB 2272 section 3 amends ORS 25.325 to provide that the Department of Justice will by rule prescribe the form of a medical support notice. These notices are issued by the enforcing agency to notify employers that their employees are required to provide health care coverage. The notices are binding on employers if a child is eligible to be enrolled in a health benefit plan.

Multiple Child Support Judgments

HB 2272 section 6 amends ORS 25.091 to define a “governing child support judgment” to include medical support. The bill also clarifies that when an earlier-issued child support judgment provides a specific type of child support and the last-issued judgment is silent regarding that type of child support, the requirement of the earlier child support order continues in effect. This language addresses subsequent child support orders that may address a monetary support provision or a medical support provision, but not both.

Contesting Medical Support Notice

HB 2272 section 10 amends ORS 25.333 to allow a party to contest a medical support notice if the providing party’s income is equal to or less than Oregon minimum wage for full-time employment.  

HB 2273 (ch 209) Suspension of Licenses

Currently, ORS 25.750 provides that a license suspension as a means of child support enforcement is only authorized where the license holder is under an order or judgment to pay child support and is in arrears in an amount equal to the greater of 3 months of support or $2500. HB 2273 amends ORS 25.750 to delete the requirement that the party must be under an order.

 HB 2275 (ch 80) Child Support Provisions

HB 2275 is a child support clean up bill that amends existing statutes and creates new provisions.

1. Contesting Order to Withhold

HB 2275 amends ORS 25.405 to allow a person seeking relief from an out-of-state wage-withholding order received directly by an Oregon employer to contest the validity and enforcement of the order under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act .

2. Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility

HB 2275 amends ORS 416.415 to include the absence of an administrative support order as well as the absence of a court order as grounds for issuance of a notice and finding of financial responsibility.

3. Assignment of Support Rights

HB 2275 amends ORS 412.024 to establish that support arrears owed when an obligee applies for TANF are not required to be assigned to the state.

4. Motions to Modify Financial Responsibility Orders

Currently, minimum child support payments are based on the assumption that an obligor-parent can obtain at least a minimum wage job. The availability of such jobs is not always a reality in many communities in Oregon and HB 2275 addresses the assumption that minimum-wage jobs are available. HB 2275 amends ORS 416.425 to allow the Attorney General to declare a “period of significant unemployment.” This grants the Support Enforcement Division authority to suspend or modify a support enforcement order for six months during a “period of significant unemployment.”

HB 2275 took effect on May 5, 2009.

HB 2276 (ch 352) Child Support Enforcement Services

HB 2277 (ch 353) Changes in Support Award when Physical Custody Changes

Currently, if the noncustodial parent has physical custody beyond parenting time or visitation, the parties must petition the court to modify the support order. If the support order is not modified, the noncustodial parent with physical custody will pay for the child’s room and board and owe child support as well.

HB 2277 allows the Child Support Division to modify a child support order based on a change in physical custody beyond parenting time and visitation. The bill allows a parent with physical custody to file an affidavit to change the support order. The other parent may contest the affidavit by requesting a hearing under ORS 416.427. The change to the child support order does not alter legal custody under this bill.

1. Assign Support Rights

Under Oregon law, if a child is receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds, the parent with the obligation to pay child support owes the debt to the state. The Child Support Division collects support arrearages from these parents. HB 2276 requires either that the Child Support Division be assigned support rights before providing support enforcement services, or that a person seeking enforcement services submit a written, signed application to the administrator which includes the last-known addresses of the obligor and obligee and indicates that the person is applying for child support services. Additionally, any judgment providing for payment to the DOJ under ORS 25.020 must incorporate an application for child support services in the judgment, in a form prescribed by the statute.

2. Entity Primarily Responsible for Support Enforcement Services

Under ORS 25.080 as amended by HB 2276, the Child Support Division is primarily responsible for support enforcement services if the person seeking services files an application with the administrator or if support rights have been assigned to the state. Support enforcement services are provided only on behalf of the State of Oregon, not on behalf of a parent or any other party.

3. Referral of Support Cases by District Attorney

HB 2276 amends ORS 25.160 by limiting the scope from all support cases to only child support cases. The bill also allows a case to be referred to the DOJ by an application for support enforcement, as described above, made either to the district attorney or the Child Support Division.

4. Payment of Support through DOJ

HB 2276 amends ORS 25.164 to allow an application, as described above, to be submitted to the DOJ for support enforcement services if the support judgment does not require the payments be made through the DOJ.  

 HB 2278 (ch 354) Judgment Remedies for Child Support

Under Oregon law, a parent is obligated to support his or her child until the child reaches the age of 18 or older in some circumstances. Currently, a judgment to pay child support expires after 25 years. HB 2278 amends ORS 18.180 by providing that judgments for child support expire after 35 years rather than 25 years.

HB 2278 applies to all judgments entered before, on or after the effective date but does not operate to revive any judgment remedies that expired before the effective date.

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About pfs2law

LAW OFFICES OF PAUL F. SHERMAN
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