Under Oklahoma child support laws, parents are legally required to support their children. That requirement does not disappear when parents go through a divorce. If anything, that requirement becomes a focus in a divorce.
For the purposes of Muskogee child support, that requirement continues until a child turns 18. If the child is still in school, the support continues until the child graduates or turns 19 years of age, whichever comes first.
Oklahoma Child Support Laws
Child support in Muskogee, Oklahoma is determined by statutory guidelines that presume levels of support at various income levels. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118
Both parents add their adjusted gross income together. Gross income is averaged over the last three years, actual weekly earnings, the minimum hourly wage for a 40-hour work week, or an amount imputed by the court for a person with this level of education, training, and experience.
For self-employed parents, their adjusted gross income is their income minus the necessary and ordinary expenses required for their business.
The calculator includes costs for things such as medical and dental insurance, day care costs, and other support payment obligations. Child support is apportioned in some part according to the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The Oklahoma Child Support Calculator is available online and provided by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Adjustments To Calculated Support
Adjustments to calculated support may be based on a number of factors, including the number of overnights spent with each parent.
The basic calculated child support figure may be adjusted if a non-custodial parent is granted at least 121 overnights of parenting time during a 12 month period or in cases when a parent may spend differing amounts of time with each of multiple children of the marriage. In that case, the parenting time adjustment is calculated by looking at an annual average of parenting time with all of the children.
In the case of split physical custody, either parent may be eligible for a parenting time adjustment.
Other deviations from the calculated support amount may be made if it is in the child’s best interests. No deviation may be made if it would seriously impair the ability of the custodial parent to maintain minimally adequate housing, food, and clothing for the children.
Typical deviations from guidelines occur when there are extraordinary medical needs not covered by insurance or in the face of extreme financial hardship on the part of one of the parents.
Child Support Modifications
Because years may pass between the original child support order and the time a child turns 18, child support orders may need to be revisited and modified from time to time. Modifications are most often based on changed circumstances. Modifications will also be allowed when there is a problem with the original order.
Oklahoma law allows a modification when:
- the original order does not contain an order for medical support;
- the child support payment was not calculated according to the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines;
- if there will be at least a 20 percent change in the calculated amount of child support to be paid; or
- there are significant changes in the circumstances of the child or the parents.
A significant change in circumstances can include: an increase or decrease in the needs of the child or the income of the parents, a qualified medical disability, changes in child care expenses, the cost of a child’s medical or dental insurance, or when there are changes in the child’s custody.
A parent must request the modification and a hearing will be held on the matter. An experienced Muskogee attorney can help the court fully understand all the facts and conditions necessitating the modification.
Sometimes, job changes lead to raises. However, sometimes a job change could mean a job loss or cutback.
Without a modification, a parent suffering a decrease in income can quickly fall behind in child support payments. Those payments continue until a modification is put in place.
Child Support Enforcement
When a parent is unable to pay or refuses to pay, enforcement is necessary. If the custodial parent is not receiving any sort of public assistance benefits, enforcement can be handled by a private attorney. Wage garnishment is the tool most often used.
If the parent is receiving public assistance services, the Department of Human Services (DHS) will handle the garnishment. As the DHS collects, it subtracts the amount of public assistance given from the amount collected by the garnishment. The remainder then goes to the other parent involved.
Child support orders and wage garnishment are also available across state lines. Federal and state tax refunds may be intercepted, a wage garnishment order can be used across state lines, and liens may be placed against the delinquent parent’s property. In addition, professional and state licenses may be denied, driver’s licenses may be suspended, and federal passports can be denied. Finally, fines, contempt of court, and jail time may all be imposed.
Tribal Law and Jurisdiction
In 2020, the Supreme Court decided McGirt v. Oklahoma, which restored recognized the reservation boundaries of five tribes to include most of Eastern Oklahoma. State and tribal courts are still sorting out how McGirt affects family law matters.
For practical purposes, members of tribes may approach their tribal courts in family law matters. Tribal courts may accept or decline the matter, transferring it to state court.
Tribal courts have jurisdiction to hear child support and custody matters, among other issues, for a child of any federally recognized tribe. (25 U.S.C. ch. 21 § 1911(A,B) Indian Child Welfare Act)
Generally, tribes that have robust tribal court systems may be most willing to accept jurisdiction in family matters involving their members residing within the boundaries of their jurisdiction.
Our office is admitted to practice in some tribal courts and can seek further admittance if a particular matter requires access to tribal courts.
Free Consultation: Muskogee Divorce Attorney
Are you facing a divorce in Muskogee and feel that you need help? Get the help you need and avoid making regrettable errors during a time when you are possibly going through intense emotions. Talk to a Muskogee divorce lawyer today.
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Call 918-913-0725 today for an initial free consultation with a Muskogee divorce attorney. You can also submit the question form at the top right of this page.