Oregon Child Support Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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When should I apply for child support services?

Every child has the right to have the support of both parents. The Oregon Child Support Program may be able to help if you are having problems:

  • Establishing paternity (who the child’s biological father is)
  • Finding the non-custodial parent
  • Establishing a child support order or making changes to an existing support order
  • Coordinating health care coverage for a child
  • Determining the amount of past due child support
  • Collecting child support payments
  • Collecting spousal support payments when spousal support is part of a child support order
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Who is entitled to child support services?

Child support services are available to both custodial and noncustodial parents. Even if you or the other parent live in another state, you can apply for services in Oregon. Relatives or other caretakers who have physical custody of a child are also entitled to child support services.

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Who provides child support services?

Child Support Program offices throughout the state provide full service child support. For established child support cases in Oregon, you may access your case information online (below).

If your child receives public assistance in Oregon or received it in the past, as a general rule, the Department of Justice, Division of Child Support (DCS) will provide child support services. Public assistance means Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid (including Oregon Health Plan Services). DCS also provides services if your child is in the care of the Department of Human Services (i.e., foster care) or the Oregon Youth Authority.

If your child has not received public assistance, you can receive child support services from the District Attorney in the county where you live. In a few counties, DCS provides services for the District Attorney by contracted agreement.

Also, a request for a review and modification of your order may be assigned to the county where the original order was taken, or to the county where the other parent lives. You should check with your local District Attorney for more information.

If the Division of Child Support handles your case, contact them if you have questions regarding modification of your order.

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Who do I contact for child support services?

If your child receives public assistance and you have questions about establishing paternity or establishing, modifying or enforcing a support order, contact the nearest Division of Child Support office. If your child has not received public assistance, contact the District Attorney in your area.

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What is expected of me?

If you are thinking of applying for public assistance, you may want to contact your local District Attorney first. They may be able to help you get child support, which may mean you can avoid going on public assistance.

If you receive public assistance, you are required to cooperate with the Division of Child Support. However, if you can show that to do so would be harmful to you or your child, you may be exempt from cooperating. See Child Abuse and Domestic Violence for more information.

Whether you receive public assistance or not, your cooperation with the child support agency is very necessary to the success of collecting support or establishing paternity.

Any facts you have about the non-custodial parent are helpful in enforcing support. Although it is not a requirement for application, you should include as many of the following pieces of information as you can on the application to help the caseworker locate the parent and enforce support:

  • The full name and address (or last known location) of the non-custodial parent
  • The parent's Social Security Number (this can be found on things such as pay stubs, old tax forms, health insurance forms, and drivers' licenses issued by some states)
  • The parent's date of birth (or approximate age)
  • The present or last place the parent worked
  • The county and state in which the divorce occurred, if there was one, and a copy of the order, or the county and state where there is any other support order
  • The child(ren)'s birth certificate and Social Security Number
  • Information on any assets such as bank accounts, vehicles, or land the non-custodial parent might have
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How do I get services?

If your child receives public assistance, your child support case should be referred to DCS automatically. That is also true if your child is in the custody of the Department of Human Services (i.e., foster care) or the Oregon Youth Authority.

If your child does not receive public assistance, you can apply to the District Attorney in the county in which you live. (To find out where to call, see the list of District Attorney offices.) You will be asked to complete an application and charged a one-time $1 fee for this service. The fee will be deducted from the first money we collect. See Apply for Services for more information.

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What services are NOT provided?

Legal Advice - Neither the Division of Child Support (DCS) nor the District Attorney is your attorney. They cannot give you legal advice. They represent the State of Oregon. Any person involved in a case handled by DCS or the District Attorney may hire an attorney at their own expense. In contempt and criminal nonsupport cases, the court will appoint an attorney to represent the person charged if that person cannot afford an attorney. See Get Legal Help for more information.

Please tell the child support agency if you have an attorney who represents you in any child support matter. DCS or the District Attorney must deal with your attorney unless your attorney says they can talk with you.

Spousal Support - Enforced only if there is also child support. If there is no child support order but the obligee receives assistance in any form, we can initiate income withholding and provide accounting services. DCS does not provide other enforcement; some DA offices do provide limited services - see the back of the application form for participating DA offices. If the obligee is not receiving assistance, we will pass through any payment for spousal support if we receive a copy of the order and know where to send the funds.

Visitation & Legal Custody - Neither DCS nor the District Attorney can advise you about visitation or custody matters. These matters must be discussed with a private attorney or handled in court.

There are mediation services offered by other entities in Oregon. See Parenting Time for more information.

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Where can I mail a payment?

Most non-custodial parents use income withholding to fulfill their child support obligation. This means a child support payment is automatically withheld from the parent’s paycheck and sent to the Child Support Program.

If granted an exception, the non-custodial parent may choose an alternative method of payment such as an electronic withdrawal from their bank account, payment by check or money order.

Make your check or money order payable to:

Child Support Program
PO Box 14506
Salem, Oregon, 97309

Please include the non-custodial parent’s Social Security number and child support case number on the check or money order. Please specify if you are paying for genetic testing. For more information, please see Pay Support.

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Do I have any alternatives to income withholding?

All new or modified support orders normally require income withholding. However, the court or enforcing agency may allow an exception by making a written finding that there is “good cause” to not order income withholding. This means you must show that income withholding would not be in the best interests of the child and you have made any and all previous payments on time.

If child support payments are already being withheld from your income, you may request an exception once each of the following conditions has been met:

You and the other party agree to an alternative method of paying support

  • You and the other party agree to an alternative method of paying support
  • You have complied with the terms of any previously allowed exception
  • You pay any and all past-due support you owe due to missed payments
  • You authorize payment of support from your bank account each month by completing an application for electronic payment withdrawal
  • The other party consents to payment by electronic payment withdrawal or if money is owed to the state, the state agrees to payment by electronic payment withdrawal.

If your support order says you have to pay only when your child is in state care you must:

  • Request an exception in writing
  • Have complied with the terms of any previously allowed exception
  • Have paid any and all past-due support on time and continue to make all of your payments on time

If you get an exception and then fall behind in paying support, income withholding will begin. This could happen if you do not keep enough money in your bank account to cover your monthly support payments. It could also happen if you close your bank account. If you fall behind in paying support, we cannot grant you an exception in the future.

For more information about getting an exception, please contact you’re the child support office handling your case. You may also with to read the laws and rules about alternatives to income withholding at  ORS 25.378, ORS 25.396, OAR 137-055-4110, OAR 137-055-4060, and OAR 137-055-4120.

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Do I have to make payments through the Department of Justice?

You are required to make payments through the Oregon Department of Justice if:

  • Your child support order states that payments must be made in this manner
  • One of the parties to your child support case submitted an application for child support services
  • Your child is receiving or received some form of assistance from the state
  • Support is assigned to the state because your child received some form of assistance

If support is assigned to the state because your child received some form of assistance, you must continue to make payments to the Department of Justice.

If support is not assigned to the state, ORS 25.030 and 25.130 state that the parties may elect or the court may authorize payment to a checking or savings account or by electronic transfer to an account maintained by a licensed escrow agent. In order for the parties to elect another payment method, both parties must agree to close their case with the Child Support Program, notify the assigned child support office and file an election in writing with the court that entered the support order. The election must be signed by both parties and must specify:

  • The amount of the support payment
  • The date payment is due
  • The court number
  • The account number of the checking or savings account that is to be used; or the name of the escrow agent, licensed under ORS 696.511, to whom, and the account number into which the payments are to be electronically transferred.

For more information please contact your case worker or a child support office near you.

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Do all Child Support payments get sent electronically?

All child support payments are meant to be paid electronically. Child support disbursements will be made to either a Direct Deposit account or onto a ReliaCard unless a customer has received an exception. See Receive Support for more information.

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If I normally pay support will any funds due to me come in a paper check?

Yes, funds returned to non-custodial parents and employers will be disbursed as a paper checks.

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Can I get an exception to electronic disbursement?

Yes, the Oregon Child Support Program will consider special circumstances (OAR 137-055-6020) on a case-by-case basis to decide if an exception to electronic payments is available.

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How do I make a request for an exception?

A request for an exception must be made by submitting a Request for Exception to Electronic Disbursement Enrollment form (CSF 08 0701). The Child Support Program will review the request and notify you of our decision within 30 days of receiving your request.

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What criteria does the Oregon Child Support Program use when making their decision?

The Child Support Program reviews the situation to identify if sending payments by paper check is in the best interest of the child(ren).

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Where do I get answers to my questions about exceptions and receiving checks?

Questions can be directed to your child support case manager or to the Outgoing Electronic Payments desk in the Financial Services Unit.

You can contact the Outgoing Electronic Payments desk at:

Reconciliation, ATTN: Outgoing Electronic Payments
Child Support Program
PO Box 14320
Salem, OR 97309-5048

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How do I contact my case manager?

To locate your assigned office address/phone number, login into the interactive case status website or locate an office nearest you.

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How do I request a change of address?

To request a change of address please contact your case manager. If you are unsure about which office is responsible for handling your case, you can check online by looking up your case status or by calling our telephone information line from the following numbers:

From the Salem area: (503) 373-7300
Toll-free in Oregon: (800) 850-0228
From outside Oregon: (503) 378-5567
TTY: (800) 735-2900

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How do I get help to resolve a problem with my child support case?

The best way to get an issue taken care of is at the local office that handles your case. If you have not yet talked to a lead worker or manager at the local office, contact the office nearest you to ask to speak to them.

If you have already talked to the leadworker or manager in the local office and your issue has not been resolved, you may wish to contact our Child Support Program Constituent Services at (503) 947-4388. You also may e-mail representatives of the Constituent Services Team at: constituent.desk@doj.state.or.us.

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How do I change the amount I receive or have to pay?

You may ask the Child Support Program (CSP) to review the child support and/or medical child support terms of your support order. The CSP will begin the review only if:

  1. It has been at least 35 months since the date the support order was entered, reviewed or last modified; or

  2. You can show proof there has been a substantial change of circumstances. This could mean a change in custody, the needs of the child(ren), or the number of children covered by the support order. It could also mean a significant change in a parent’s income, or a change in medical child support.

For more information, see Request for Modification.

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Who can I contact about changing the current child support laws?

The Oregon Child Support Program does not have the authority to make changes to current laws. If you have concerns about current child support laws or to suggest how they may be improved, please contact your State Senator or Representative.

Oregon State Legislature - Find Your Legislator.

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Who can I e-mail regarding the Child Support Program website?

If you have suggestions for how we can make the Oregon Child Support Program’s Web site even better, please send your comments through our the feedback form. We value your opinion and look forward to hearing from you.

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If I don't find the answer to my general question?

If the information you are seeking is not covered by the Oregon Child Support Web site please contact us. If you think the answer to your question may be helpful to other people we invite you to send your comments through the feedback form. We are working hard to make information more accessible to the public and look forward to hearing from you.

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What if I have a grievance?

Parties in child support cases are entitled to fair, professional, courteous and accurate service from offices of the Oregon Child Support Program.

If you have a complaint that you have not received this level of service from an Oregon Child Support Office, please contact a supervisor in that office. If talking to a supervisor does not succeed in resolving the issue, you may wish to file a grievance. The Child Support Grievance Form is available from our web site.

This form will contain the instructions for filing the grievance, including the address where it should be sent. Your grievance will be screened, and if accepted, responded to within 90 days.