Not Paying Can Lead to a Felony Charge
Video Transcribed: What if there’s a child support order in place in Oklahoma through DHS and the person responsible for paying quits their job? I’m James Wirth, an attorney in Tulsa, and that’s the question that we have.
It’s submitted to us online through our legal questions answered forum on Facebook. And what it says is, “What if there is a child support order in place through DHS and the person responsible for paying quits their job and decides not to work? What do you do under those circumstances?”
Okay, so first off, once you have a child support order in place, that is the order and that’s what they’re required to pay until the court that entered that order or another court that takes over jurisdiction modifies it and it can’t be modified retroactively. So the party that quit their job has to file a motion to modify in order to get that number determined to be different based on new circumstances. So until they do that, it’s going to stay the same. Once they do that, once they file the motion and eventually get an order, that order can relate only back to the date that the motion was filed, not prior to that because child support cannot be modified retroactively.
So obviously, if they quit their job and you had a child support intercept in place, it was garnishing their wages, then that’s going to be problematic that they quit because that means the money is no longer coming in, but the obligation is still there, so it comes down to how do you enforce it? Well, child support can be enforced in a number of different ways for like any judgment, you could set it for an asset hearing, but that’s generally not done. More typically, you see it on the child support contempt docket because like in counties like Tulsa County, they got a specialized docket that they call the Rocket Docket because it moves more quickly than other dockets that can get you into court before a judge relatively quickly to try to get child support coming back in.
If the court determines they’re willfully failing to pay child support, then they can be sitting stuff to six months in jail for omission to pay child support also if they’re continuing to not pay, and that starts adding up, there is a criminal charge of omission to pay child support. It’s a felony in the state of Oklahoma, and the prosecutor in the county can charge that if they elect to do so. Some counties charge those types of crimes, other counties elect not to really file any at all. So depends on where you’re residing for that.
Now, the fact that he’s deciding that he’s not going to work at all, or the party is deciding not to work, if it does go before the court on a modification, which you’re not going to be the one to do that, you’re going to want to let them do that, that’s going to be their burden to file that motion to modify child support to reduce it because they’re no longer working, you’re going to want to assert that they’re willfully unemployed, they have the ability to work and they’re not so that the court should impute them to the wage that they’re able to make the wage that they were previously making. So even though they’re not making that anymore, they could be, so they should be. That’s what your argument’s going to be to try to keep the child support amount the same.
However, you may be able to win on that, but that still doesn’t help you collect because there’s not a paycheck to garnish from and that’s where you go to the contempt or other means of trying to collect. So hopefully that answers your question, but if you’re dealing with that specific circumstance, you’re going to want to talk to a child support lawyer in Oklahoma at my office privately and confidentially take legal advice to get that scheduled and go online to makelaweasy.com.