Oklahoma Makes Major Changes to Child Support Guidelines
Video Transcribed: Child support automatically abated in Oklahoma for inmates. My name is James Wirth, I am an Attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we’re talking about a very significant change in the Oklahoma child support guidelines.
It’s part of Senate Bill 421 that went into effect as law on November 1st, 2021. It has a number of changes related to Oklahoma child support guidelines. The most significant of which is the abatement of child support for those incarcerated for 180 days or more.
And what it indicates in the laws is it says, “After November 1st of 2021, there shall be a rebuttable presumption than an obligor who is incarcerated for a period of 180 days or more consecutive days is unable to pay child.”
So it starts with a presumption that they cannot pay child support or are unable to pay child support. And then it notes that the obligor’s child support obligation shall be abated without court action effective the first day of the month, following the entry into the correction of the facility.
Now, it doesn’t even have to be necessarily in Oklahoma. It could be county jail, state penitentiary, federal. Could be in this state, another state. If the order is out of Oklahoma and is being enforced in Oklahoma, and that person is incarcerated regardless of where they’re incarcerated, if they’re incarcerated on November 1st, 2021 or after, and their incarceration is 480 days or more, then the child support is automatically abated without going to court, without making the request, starting the first of the month after the incarceration.
And then after they are released, the abatement automatically ends the first of the month after a 90 day grace period from getting out of custody. So during that time period, no new child support is ordered. The old child support is still in place and not effective prior to the date that it’s abated. But all of that for the time period that they’re in custody and for 90 day grace period afterward, they’re accruing no new child support.
However, that is just a rebuttable presumption. It does happen automatically without going to court. However, the other side could file and try to rebut that presumption. If they have earning capacity while they’re incarcerated, or they have assets and the ability to pay, then they can file to rebut that presumption to keep that child support order in place while they are incarcerated.
This could be very significant, a lot amount of money that could be at stake for some people that are receiving child support, some people that are owed child support here. Certainly, in the cases that I’ve handled at my office, this is something that’s come upon a somewhat regular basis where an obligor may be in custody.
So that’s going to have an effect on a fair amount of people in the state of Oklahoma. It should be noted. There is an exception though. This does not apply where the person is in jail, is incarcerated, due to a failure to pay child support.
If it’s a child support contempt, then it’s not going to be applicable there. Of course, child support contempt is a misdemeanor with up to six months in prison, so I don’t know how you’d get beyond the 100 days anyway, but that’s noted in this statute as an exception.
But there’s also the felony crime of omission to pay child support. If the person is in custody on that basis, then the abatement does not apply. Also, where the child was a victim of the crime, that appears to be an exception in the statute.
So, if somebody served jail time prior to, they completed their sentence of incarceration in custody time prior to November 1st, it’s not going to change anything for you at all. If somebody is currently incarcerated but getting ready to be released, the statute’s not completely clear, but it looks like DHS at least is interpreting that as meaning, as long as you were in custody on November 1st or after, that it is applicable to you and can go back and abate time periods historically, starting the first of the month after you went into custody.
So, if you have any questions about how this may affect your circumstances, talking about filing to rebut that presumption or to make sure that this applies to your circumstances to lower your child support obligation if that affects your circumstances, you’re probably going to want to talk to a Tulsa child support attorney, more specifically about that to get legal advice privately. If you want to talk to somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com