Any Party Can File for Child Support
Video Transcribed: How does child support work in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa family attorney James Wirth, and I’m answering frequently asked questions and that’s the question I’ve got is how does child support work in Oklahoma? Now that could be a very broad question, covering a whole lot of different things, but I’ll just get into the basics.
I’m planning on doing a series regarding a lot of specific issues with child support that may be a lot more in-depth. But based on that question, I’m going to assume it’s generally how does child support work?
Okay. For that, any party can file for child support. It could be the mom that’s got the kids. It could be the dad that’s got the kids. You can do it as part of a divorce. You can do it as part of a legal separation. You can do it in DHS administrative court. If DHS is providing any benefits to the child, then DHS becomes an interested party that can then file in administrative court on their own.
But as far as how are the amounts determined, we’ve got the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines, and there’s a number of different factors that go in there. For base child support, it’s primarily based on the income of the parties. I can show you a statute here, it’s Title 43, Section 119, and it’s got a schedule in there.
Child support is not based on a particular algorithm where you throw it in. It’s based on this chart. It’s based on a spreadsheet. The first factor is, you can see here, is income; the party’s income. You add the parties’ income together, and then you go over the number of kids that you have.
One that we see frequently, if we’ve got both parents that aren’t working, usually they’ll be imputed to a minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek at a minimum.
Then if both parties are at that and they’re getting 50/50 time, or I shouldn’t say they’re going 50/50 time, but one party has a substantial amount of time so that the other party is not earning a shared parenting credit. Well, then you’d go down here because a minimum wage 40-hour workweek is $1,256.67.
So you add that together twice for each parent. And it comes up to this factor here for the party’s income as being $2,500. If they’ve got one child, then that’s the total that the Oklahoma statutes say that you would need to support the child, but that’s going to be split pro-rata based on income. Half of that then is going to be the child support obligation.
Under those circumstances where you have two parents making the minimum wage, then the child support’s going to be two $222.50 per month for one child.
If you go and add it up to another child there, then you’re going to get extra money there. It goes on up to six children. Interestingly, it goes up for each child except after six, it just says six children or more.
So the guidelines don’t go up anymore for child number seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. If you’re in that scenario, or you’ve got a big family like that, the child support guidelines may not be that fair for you.
You could ask for a deviation from the guidelines in order to add on additional monies for kids above six. The other thing that the guidelines do not take into account is higher-income families. So these guidelines go on for page after page after page, but eventually, you get to the end of the chart because it’s not an algorithm that can’t go on forever. It’s got to end.
It ends at the parties’ incomes, combined incomes, being $15,000. So at $15,000, it maxes out for the amount of child support, but the guidelines don’t say you don’t get any more after that. What the guidelines say is that they don’t apply to incomes above $15,000 per month.
If the combined incomes of the parties are above $15,000 per month, you throw this chart out, and then you don’t really have a lot of guidelines. You go to the court and you make arguments for what an appropriate amount of support is for the best interest of the children. Under those circumstances, normally what I’d do is I start off on the amount of $15,000 and then I come up with a percentage of the income beyond that to go towards child support.
Hopefully, that answers the general question of how child support works. We determined the parties’ incomes. We plug it into that spreadsheet. It determines the amount, the amount is then taken, divided pro-rata based on the party’s income.
Then the obligor has to pay their pro-rata share of that. As I said, I’m going to do a series that covers more specifics on that but if you’ve got questions regarding your circumstances, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney directly about that. If you want to talk to somebody in my office, go to makelaweasy.com to discuss your child support in Tulsa, Oklahoma.