Child support can be a contentious issue. Fortunately, Oklahoma has a guideline formula in place for determining child support.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Who Pays Child Support in Oklahoma
- How is Child Support Determined
- Deviating from the Oklahoma Guidelines
- Health Insurance and Child Support
- When Does Child Support End
- Child Support and Taxes
- How to Request Child Support
- Enforcement of Oklahoma Child Support Orders
- How to Change the Amount of Child Support
- Establishing Paternity
Who Pays Child Support in Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, the court can order either parent to pay child support based on criteria in the state’s child support guidelines. Parents are free to reach an agreement on the amount of child support, most often as part of an overall divorce settlement agreement. However, a judge will need to review the agreement and approve it only if it follows the guidelines and if it includes deviations that are in the best interest of the child.
How is Child Support Determined in Oklahoma?
The Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations assumes that all families have certain child-rearing expenses. The basic child support obligation is an average amount to cover these expenses, typically including housing, food, transportation, basic public educational expenses, clothing, and entertainment.
Oklahoma Child support guideline calculation depends on:
- How much money the parents earn or can earn. The base amount of child support each parent is responsible for reflects the percentage they contribute to the combined adjusted gross income (AGI).
- How much other income each parent receives.
- How many children do the parents have together.
- How much time each parent spends with their children.
- Support paid for children from other relationships.
- Health insurance expenses.
- Daycare expenses.
- Other factors.
The amounts in these guidelines are presumed by law to be an appropriate amount of total child support. In most cases, you will receive child support from the day you file your case asking for child support.
You can use the Oklahoma online child support calculator to estimate how much support each parent might be required to pay.
Read More: Divorce Laws in Oklahoma
Child Support Calculator
Go here to use online guideline calculators, forms, and instructions. This page also lists legal authority related to the guidelines.
Including information on CSS services and specific information and tips for various child support customers, like grandparents, service members, and employers. Child support forms and child support publications can also be accessed in the Forms Index. Other child support publications are located in the Publications Library.
Read More: How to File for Divorce in Oklahoma
Deviating from Guideline Child Support
A court can deviate from the child support guidelines when it is in the child’s best interests and the guideline support amount would be unjust or inequitable under the circumstances.
Also, a judge can’t approve a deviation unless both parties have an attorney or one party has an attorney, and the deviation benefits the party without an attorney.
Adjustments are regularly made to account for health insurance costs, extraordinary costs of education (i.e., private school tuition), childcare, and extraordinary medical expenses.
When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the court can determine how much that parent is capable of earning. The court can then base the child support calculations on the imputed (assumed) income.
A court may consider the following factors as part of the determination of imputed income:
- the average wages and hours worked in the parent’s industry and geographic area
- the parent’s education, training, work experience, and ability to work
- wages the parent could earn consistent with the minimum wage rate of at least 25 hours a week
- whether a court has determined the parent is willfully or voluntarily unemployed
- the lifestyle of the parent, including ownership of valuable assets and resources
- the role of the parent as caretaker of a handicapped or seriously ill child, and
- any other factors the court believes are relevant.
How does parenting time impact child support?
Although each parent is responsible for a share of the total child support obligation, both parents won’t be making monthly payments to each other. Instead, in most cases, the parent who is not the child’s primary custodian becomes the “obligor” and pays the primary custodian a share of the base support.
The guidelines schedule presumes a “standard” time-sharing or visitation schedule in which the non-custodial parent exercises 70-90 overnight visits each year. “Shared parenting” in Oklahoma means that each parent has physical custody of a child overnight for more than 120 nights each year. If the child support obligor exercises more than 120 overnight visits per year, the law presumes the obligor parent is spending more to care for the child.
A complicated formula is used to adjust child support depending on the additional number of overnight visits the obligor parent exercises. The more overnights, the greater the adjustment, and the less the obligor parent must pay.
“Split custody” means that each parent has primary custody of one or more children. In split custody cases, separate computations are made for each parent, and the amounts are offset against each other. The parent with the larger child support obligation pays the difference between the two amounts to the parent with the smaller child support obligation.
What happens when the parents’ combined income exceeds $15,000 a month?
Oklahoma’s child support guideline schedule maxes out at $15,000 per month total combined adjusted gross income. For parents who make more than that, child support is computed using the maximum from the guideline schedule, plus “an additional amount determined by the court.”
Child Care Costs
Oklahoma guidelines consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child.
Child care costs are a “mandatory deduction” for basic child support. Suppose the non-custodial parent pays child care costs. In that case, the portion of the monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner is deducted from the noncustodial partner’s monthly child support payment.
What if I am in the military and called to active duty?
If you have been called to active duty, please notify Child Support Services to report the change in address and employment status by calling 1-800-522-2922. For more information, read CSS’s web page for recently activated military personnel.
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
Any court order for parents to pay child support must include health care coverage. A judge may order parents to provide health insurance or pay cash medical support.
Parents have several options, including accessing plans provided by an employer, group insurance through unions or similar professional organizations, and plans available to another person, such as your spouse.
If a child has not been insured for six months or has been insured for six months and has any medical condition, the Oklahoma Temporary High-Risk Pool could be an option.
Extraordinary medical costs are treated differently. They are defined as costs generated by conditions such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces. Oklahoma treats extraordinary medical care costs as a “mandatory deduction” for basic child support. That means if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner is deducted from the noncustodial partner’s monthly child support payment.
If none of the options are reasonable in cost, or if they don’t meet your children’s health care needs, your children may qualify for government-sponsored health care through the SoonerCare program (Medicaid). Visit the website or call the SoonerCare Helpline at 1-800-987-7767 for more information.
When Does Child Support End in Oklahoma?
Under Oklahoma law, a parent must pay child support until the child turns 20 or graduates from high school, whichever comes first.
Child support payments can extend beyond age 19 if the child is physically or mentally disabled.
Oklahoma has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support. College expense support by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement.
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
Children are entitled to support regardless of their parent’s marital status. Parents often request child support as part of filing for divorce. However, the issue of child support also comes up in situations where the parents never married.
Outside of a divorce proceeding, parents can apply to Child Support Services (CSS) to establish a child support order.
Families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits or Medicaid benefits are automatically referred to OCSS and don’t have to fill out an application.
Contact the Customer Service Center if you want an application mailed to you. In the Oklahoma City metro area, only call (405) 522-CARE (522-2273). In the Tulsa metro area only, call (918) 295-3500. In all other areas, call 1-800-522-2922.
You can also download an Application for Child Support Services Form 03EN001E.
Mail your completed application and copies of any child support orders to:
Case Initiation Center
P.O. Box 248843
Oklahoma City, OK 73124-8843
If you want to apply for “locate only” services, you must also complete the Locate Only Rights & Responsibilities (Form 03EN007E). Only a custodial parent or attorney may apply for assistance in locating a noncustodial parent’s residence and employment.
Enforcing Oklahoma Child Support Orders
Child support is enforced by income assignment. An order or notice to withhold income for child support directs the obligor’s employer to pay a portion of the obligor’s earnings for child support. These transactions become an official record of child support payments.
Parents can agree to pay and receive child support using other arrangements. An obligor spouse can pay support by cash, check, bank transfer, Zelle or Venmo.
For various reasons, when child support becomes overdue, parents can go to court and ask a judge to enforce the order and make additional orders aimed at collecting payments. Parents can also go to a local child support enforcement office and ask for help.
Other enforcement options include:
- Contempt of court means a judge will punish the non-custodial parent for disobeying the court’s order to pay with fines or, in some cases, jail time for 30 to 90 days. The court will consider the case’s specific circumstances, including any previous contempt findings, when determining the length of the sentence or amount of the fine.
- If the paying parent is severely delinquent in payments, criminal contempt may result in misdemeanor or felony changes. It carries harsher consequences of up to four years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
- Withholding orders allow DHS to garnish or seize the non-custodial parent’s income or financial accounts, retirement or disability benefits, or lottery winnings.
- Bank account or property attachment resulting in seizing funds from financial accounts and attaching liens to property.
- Federal and state income tax intercept.
- License suspension or revocation, including identification cards, driver’s licenses, and commercial licenses.
- Other license suspensions are provided by state or county agencies, such as professional or recreational licenses.
- Passports can be refused, suspended, or restricted when the paying parent owes more than $5000 in past due support.
Modifying Oklahoma Child Support Payments
If the child support is more than 12 months old and your case has not already been reviewed in that time, you can submit a written request for modification to your caseworker.
The case worker will send financial affidavits to both parties and use those to determine if the support amount should be modified. The order may be modified if the calculated support amount differs by more than 20% from the existing support order.
Modifications can occur where there has been “a material change in circumstances” such as a job loss, major illness, change in parenting time, or other similar occurrences.
To determine if a parent’s finances have changed significantly, Oklahoma law allows you to request the other parent’s income information once a year on or after April 15th. Either parent can make a written request to the other parent for the other parent’s previous tax year W-2 forms, 1099 form, or other wage and tax information. The request has to be officially served upon the other parent and filed in court. If the other parent does not provide the requested information within ten days and the parent requesting the information then files a Motion to Modify, the Court can award attorney fees and court costs.
Also, child support can’t be modified retroactively. A judge can increase or decrease only future payments.
This video will give you more details on the modification process.
Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, as long as one parent remains in the state where the original child support was ordered, only that state can modify child support. The only way another state can modify child support is if both parents move out of the state or the parent remaining in the original state agrees in writing to allow the new state to modify child support.
Establishing Paternity in Oklahoma
Paternity means legal fatherhood. Establishing paternity means establishing legal fatherhood. Doing so gives a father specific rights and responsibilities. It allows a child to access the father’s family medical history, Social Security benefits, inheritance, or to establish Native American tribal membership for the child.
There are multiple ways to establish paternity. Paternity is assumed when parents are married, but that is not the case when parents are unwed.
If a man and the mother are sure he is the father, he can sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity (03PA209E) (AOP) form.
If either parent has doubts about who the father is, they should not sign an AOP. If the mother is married to a man who is not the child’s natural father, the husband must also sign a Denial of Paternity prior to the child’s second birthday.
A judge can also establish paternity through a court process. This is done through genetic testing. You may apply for services with CSS to request DNA testing to establish paternity and child support orders.
The most common way genetic testing is done is by rubbing the inside of the mouth with a cotton swab to collect DNA material. The DNA tests are reliable, with most results coming back at 99.9 percent. If the results are at least 99 percent, a judge will say a man is the father. In rare cases, a blood specimen may be needed.
The other way to establish paternity is for a man to adopt the child.
Does establishing paternity give the father visitation or custody rights?
No. Under Oklahoma law, the mother is presumed to have sole custody of a child born outside marriage. The child’s mother and father can agree upon visitation, and the child’s father has a right to go to court to seek visitation.
Which Agency Handles Child Support Matters in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Child Support Services (CSS) division oversees child support in the state. It provides services to:
- Custodians of children receiving TANF
- State Medicaid
- Aid to the Blind or Disabled when at least one parent is absent from the home
- Noncustodial parents of children receiving assistance from the CSS
- Custodians of children not receiving assistance when at least one parent is absent from the home
- Any person who is responsible for paying child support.
If you have an open case in another state and the other parent lives in Oklahoma, your local caseworker can submit requests to CSS in Oklahoma. All communication with CSS in Oklahoma should go through your local caseworker in your home state.
If you have not already initiated a child support case through another state child support agency, you may make an application for child support services directly with CSS by submitting a completed Application for Child Support Services (Form: 03EN001E) to Child Support Services. You do not have to be an Oklahoma resident to apply for child support services in Oklahoma.
For more information or an application for child support services, call:
- 405-522-2273 in the Oklahoma City area
- 918-295-3500 in the Tulsa area
- Or Child Support Customer Service at 1-800-522-2922. Relay Oklahoma TTY – 711 or 1-800-722-0353
You can also visit the CSS website.