Explanation of the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines
There is the often used phrase that the only two certain things in life are death and taxes. To be certain, even a bankruptcy wont allow a parent to discharge their obligation due under Oklahoma child support laws. If you are a parent in the State of Oklahoma going through either a divorce involving minor children or a party of a paternity action, you can be certain that child support will be involved. Tulsa Family Lawyers Group can help you determine the amount of child support that the family courts in Oklahoma require.
The arguments that we constantly hear in our practice is that either the child support amount is too high (from parent who is the obligor, the one being ordered to make payments) or that it is too low (from the parent who is the obligee, the one who is receiving the payments). The answer to these arguments is simple. The state legislature came up with a specific formula, based on the parents’ gross income to figure out the needs of the child and therefore child support.
In fact, Okla. Stat. tit. 43 119 provides a schedule of base child support obligations looking at the number of children and the combined gross income of the parents. It is important to realize that this is the base child support, there are several ways where this amount can be increased and decreased, however first it is important to talk about income for the purposes of child support.
The relevant statute requires the court to look at all sources of gross income, which includes earned and passive income from any source, except as excluded in this section. Earned income is defined by statute as “income received from labor or the sale of goods or services”. Which includes, but is not limited to a parents: salary, wages, tips and bonuses. Passive income is defined as all other income which would include, but again not limited to: pensions, rent received from a rental property, interest income, social security disability benefits, gifts, prizes, gambling winnings and distributions from retirement accounts.
We often hear complaints that a party cannot afford their child support obligations because of their personal expenses. Despite whether these expenses are reasonable, they won’t be taken into consideration. However there are certain things that are excluded from your income, such as: child support received for children not before the court, TANF, Supplemental Security Income, and Food Stamps.
The base child support can also be increased when the children are not covered by medical insurance. When this is the case, the obligor will have to pay a pre-established amount of money called “cash-medical”, that is to help with the payments of medical expenses. Additionally, day care expenses can be included in the child support calculation and based on the percentage of the parties income found with in the child support computation, the paying parent’s child support obligation could be increased by including that percentage into the base child support amount.
The base amount of child support can also be decreased in several ways. If the parent paying child support receives over 121 overnight visitations per year, they will receive a “shared parenting credit” that can reduce their obligation dramatically. This unfortunately has the negative effect of parents using the children and visitation as a bargaining tool for either receiving more or having to pay less child support. Additionally, the parent who is ordered to pay child support has a right to insure the parties minor children. Just like the child care example from above, this will be factored into the child support computation, with the parent paying for coverage receiving a credit based on the percentages of their shared income.
Finally, it is possible for a child support computation to come to $0 a month, but exact circumstances must be met. It is also possible for the parties to agree to a deviation from the child support computation and asking that the court set a lower amount of child, but the parties would have to prove why such a deviation is in the best interest of the parties child(ren). Ultimately the Judge has the final say as to whether or not a deviation can be approved.
If you would like a free consultation with a child support and custody attorney in Tulsa Oklahoma call us today. Our family law attorneys can review the facts of your family law case and come up with solution’s tailored to your family needs.