The State of Oklahoma has been shown to have one of the highest divorce rates. Actually, it ranks third in the states with the most divorce rates behind Nevada and Maine. Such statistics give a reflection of the number of child support cases Oklahoma courts decide on. The issues of child support are of paramount importance in Oklahoma because children are the biggest losers in divorces and separations. Just like any other states, Oklahoma child support is guided by the Oklahoma state laws. By definition, child support is an amount set by the court to ensure that children are protected and educated by parents who live apart. Child support continues until the child is no longer a minor.
The responsibility of paying child support by any parent cannot be waived because it is an issue of public policy. Oklahoma child support is guided by the 1987 child support guidelines which determine the amount of support that parents at particular income levels are presumed to spend on their children.
Calculating Oklahoma child support
Under Oklahoma child support guidelines, calculating child support begins with determining each parent’s adjusted gross income. These individual incomes are then summed up to come up with the combined gross monthly family income.
There are several ways of calculating gross income which include:
- Actual monthly income/income equivalent to a forty-hour work week
- Average monthly income while employed during the precious three years
- Minimum wage paid for a forty hour work eek
- Imputed monthly income for a person with a level of education, training and experience.
- The gross income for the self-employed is calculated as the difference between gross receipts and ordinary and necessary expenses required in self-employment
Oklahoma child support uses a guideline schedule to determine the parents’ base child support. This schedule depends on the combined income of both parents and the number of children in the household. The percentage of each parent’s share in the combined gross family income is what is used to set the parent’s percentage share of the child support obligation. Generally, the parent who is not the primary custodian becomes the obligor and pays the primary custodian their share of the base support.
There are cases where the parents’ income exceeds the guidelines and in such cases, child support is computed using the maximum from the guideline schedule.
Court determination of Oklahoma child support follows three basic principles:
- The child’s actual needs
- The parent’s ability to pay
- Considering the child’s prior standard of living
Keeping up with what percentages to pay for child support can be challenging. For this reason, all Oklahoma child support amounts are calculated by a software program. This makes the process much easier.
Under Oklahoma law, child support is dependent on incomes of parents whether they are exercising shared parenting or split parenting. Oklahoma child support guidelines assume that the non-custodial parent exercises a 70-90 nights visitation schedule in a year. For shared parenting, both parents have more than 120 night visits thus the obligor is assumed to be spending more to care for the child. Calculating the child support amount can get really complicated in these cases. Fortunately, the software is there to help out.
Under split parenting, the amounts of child support for each parent are separately computed and the amounts offset against each other.
It is important to note a few things about the interaction between Oklahoma child support and incomes:
- A different amount can be agreed upon if it is for the child’s best interest. For example, if the amount arrived at is unjust, inequitable, unreasonable or inappropriate, then the court can deviate from the stated support in the child guidelines.
- In the case of material changes in circumstances such as increase or decrease in either the obligor’s or oblige parent’s income, then an Oklahoma court can modify the amount of child support.
- To keep up to date with the changing incomes of parents, Oklahoma child support guidelines authorizes the court to order the parents to periodically exchange information. This information is for an informal review and adjustment process.
- The custodial parent is entitled to the federal income tax exemptions.
In conclusion, child support guideline calculation depends on:
-how much money the parents earn or can earn
-how much other incomes each parent receives
-how many children these parents have together
-how much time each parent spends with their children
-support paid for children from other relationships
-health insurance expenses
The Oklahoma child support calculator
The Oklahoma child support calculator can help a parent who is required to pay child support a rough idea an estimate of the amount. This calculator is provided by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Before calculation, there are 20 questions that one is required to answer related to a few of the topics below.
- Gross monthly income which includes self-employment earnings, salaries, wages, tips, bonuses, commissions, interest income, pensions, rent, trust income, gifts, royalties and fringe benefits.
- Child care expenses
- Health insurance expenses
- Additional contributions such as cash medical support
- Statutory adjustments applicable to either parties’ income
- Number of overnights the child spends with each party. (also referred to as shared parenting credit)
The calculator only gives an estimate. The true dollar amount of child support is determined by the court upon considerations of other contributing factors.
Requesting Oklahoma child support
When going about requesting for child support in Oklahoma, there are various steps one needs to take as listed below.
- Understanding and getting familiar with Oklahoma’s child support guidelines
- The application for child support services is available from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services website
- Mail the application to the Oklahoma Centralized Support Registry. The address is P.O. Box 268876, Oklahoma City, OK 73126-8876
- Provide as detailed information as a parent when filing for child support.
How is Oklahoma child support enforced?
Ordinarily, court-ordered support has to be paid in full and considered as a debt if it is not. Ever since 1991, child support payments have not expired until they are all paid. Private attorneys have tools at their disposal to collect past due child support. They include:
1.) Contempt of court
The oblige parent can apply to the court and cite contempt of court against the obligor parent.
For a guilty contempt of court verdict, there must be:
-an existing order of support in writing and filed in a court file
-full knowledge by the obligor of existence of such an order
-a willful failure to pay as required by the order
If found guilty, the obligor can spend up to 6 months in jail or pay a violation of $500 per violation.
2.) License revocation
A license revocation is quite effective when the obligor runs a business that requires a state license e.g. electricians, plumbers etc. Oklahoma issues 300 professional licenses. The oblige parent can apply to the court to revoke the obligor’s state license to coerce the latter to comply with the child support orders.
Oklahoma child support: A summary
Duration of payment
Oklahoma child support is paid until a child’s 18th birthday unless they have not yet graduated from school. In such cases, the child support will be paid until they graduate. Under Oklahoma law, the court cannot force a parent to continue paying child support after the child turns 19. However, they can do so when the child is physically or mentally disabled.
Method of payment
Child support is paid by wage assignment where the payments are directly deducted from the obligor’s wages. The deductions are then directed to the centralized support registry which is operated by the department of human services in Oklahoma. This registry records and forwards the payments to the oblige parent. These registry records are an official record of child support payments. Parents can decide to make other child support arrangements but these must be approved by the courts. Furthermore, parents can make Oklahoma child support payments through the Oklahoma Child Support Services’ Web Pay System.
It is important to be cautious when it comes to Oklahoma child support payments because the state charges interest rates on unpaid child support. As a parent who ought to pay child support and you don’t, you may find that your payments have doubled or tripled making it even harder to catch up to the payments.
The good news is that Oklahoma State allows for parents who are finding it difficult to pay child support to modify their payments by requesting a child support modification.
There are a number of family law attorneys in Oklahoma to help any parent that is going through child support decisions and hearings. It is essential to consult a lawyer in order to apply Oklahoma law for specific facts. Consulting a lawyer is of best interest to the parent in order to chart the best solution of providing your child with the best care while still living within your means.
Oklahoma child support does not have to be strenuous and draining. With the right lawyer and the right information, a parent can comfortably take care of their children and themselves. The only issue of contention is to be on the right side of the Oklahoma child support laws.