9 Thing you Need to Know about Oklahoma Child Support in 2009

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9 Thing you Need to Know about Oklahoma Child Support in 2009

1. Oklahoma Child Support Laws Drastically Changed on July 1, 2009

The child support laws drastically changed in Oklahoma on July 1, 2009. In Oklahoma there is a presumption for each child support obligation to be ordered pursuant to the Oklahoma child support guidelines. Under these guidelines different factors, such as the parties' incomes, are entered and the guidelines provide the amount of the child support. On June 3, 2008 , Governor Brad Henry signed Senate Bill 2194 into law, revamping the Oklahoma child support guidelines. Due to the significance of the changes made by the bill, it was not scheduled to go into affect for another year. The changes are now in affect as of July 1, 2009.

2. Changes in Current Orders are not Automatic

Just because the child support laws have changed does not mean that your child support will automatically update. Previously entered child support orders will remain the same, unless you or the other party files to modify the child support. Furthermore, the fact that the guidelines have changed is not a sufficient reason to request an alteration. The person who files a motion to modify will have to show a change of conditions (other than the law change) that makes it in the child(ren)'s best interest to modify child support. But, if that burden is reached, the new child support should will be based on the new law. So, you will want to know whether the new law works in your favor or against you.

3. The Shared Parenting Credit is Lower for Many under the New Law

If the non-custodial parent has more than 120 nights a year, then that parent qualifies for a reduction in child support based on the number of overnights. This is true under the old laws and the new laws. However, under the new Oklahoma child support laws, the amount of the reduction is less in some circumstances. If the parent paying child support has between 121 and 143 overnights per year, the shared parenting deduction is less under the new law compared with the old. Therefore, if you are the custodial parent with a child support order under the old law, where the other parents has between 121 and 143 overnights per year, you may want to file to modify the child support order.

4. Deductions for Other Children

One of the most significant changes under Oklahoma's new child support laws is the deduction for a parent's other children living with that parent. Under the old law it did matter if you made only $1,200.00 a month and were supporting six (6) other children with that money. Your income would still be $1,200.00 for child support purposes. That has changed. Now you get a deduction from your gross income (for child support purposes) for each qualifying other child you have. To qualify, the child must be your biological or adopted child, must have been born prior to the child(ren) the order is for, and you must be the primary custodian of the child(ren). If you have other children that meet these requirements, you may want to look into filing to modify the child support in your case. If you receive the child support, with a lower income for child support purposes you should get more child support. If you pay the child support, with a lower income for child support purposes, your obligation should go down.

5. The Federal Minimum Wage Affects Child Support in Oklahoma

Under the Oklahoma child support guidelines, if one is not working or is making less than minimum wage, the court normally imputes that person to income of the federal minimum wage for a forty hours a week. The only common exception to this is for disabled persons. The minimum monthly rate was $1,135.33, based on the current $6.55 an hour Federal minimum wage. However, in just 2008 it was only $1,014.00, based on the minimum wage of $5.85 an hour. But, on July 27, 2009, the minimum wage increased again, this time to $7.25, or $1,256.67 per month. So, if you or your child's other parent were imputed to minimum wage for a child support order, a child support modification after the minimum wage has changed, could change the obligation.

6. You can Force the Child's Other Parent to Disclose Financial Information Once a Year

If you have determined based on the changes to Oklahoma's child support guidelines or the changes in the Federal minimum wage, that it may benefit you to modify child support, you are going to want to determine what your child's other parent's income is. Oklahoma law provides a mechanism for you to do this. Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 118.3 (1997), provides that either parent after April 15th of each year may serve a written request for the previous tax years "W-2 forms, 1099 form, or other wage and tax information." If a parent fails to comply with such a request and a motion to modify child support is subsequently adjudicated, the noncomplying parent may be ordered to pay the other's attorney fees.

7. There are Free Oklahoma Child Support Calculators Online

Prior to the new child support laws, both the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) and Tulsa County's Judge Hogshead had online tools that anyone could use to generate a child support form. Although Judge Hogshead's calculator has been updated to reflect Oklahoma's new child support laws, DHS is no longer providing an online calculator. However, there is an another, updated child support calculator at http://public.esquireempire.com/Oklahoma+Child+Support+Calculator+Guidelines. Simply plug the requested information into the fields and it will advise of what the new Oklahoma child support guidelines provide for in your circumstances.

8. Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines do not Apply when Income is Over $15,000.00 per Month

The purpose of the Oklahoma child support guidelines in determining a child support obligation, is that it brings transparency and predictability to what an Oklahoma court will do. This reduces the argues made and reduces litigation. However, if the parties' combined incomes exceed $15,000.00 per month, the guidelines do not apply. The court in those circumstances has wide discretion on how much to award and because of this there is often expenses, protracted litigation in these cases.

9. Child Support can be Enforced

Oklahoma law provides multiple avenues to pursue to enforce child support. First, child support is an automatic judgment against the non-custodial parents. As the parent continues not to pay, the new delinquency simply adds to the judgment. This is done without the custodial parent having to file with the court or appear in court. Second, child support arrearages automatically accrue interest at a rate of 10% per year. This is statutory and the custodial parent does not have to do anything for it to happen. Third, Oklahoma law provides that every child support order shall be accompanied by an income assignment. This means that garnishment of the non-custodial parent's income is required. However, the custodial parent (or the attorney) may have to handle the necessary paperwork and serve the correct employer. Fourth, child support may be enforced by contempt. The custodial parent can file a contempt action against the deadbeat mom or dad. If the non-custodial parent is found to have willfully failed to pay child support, the court can sentence the parent to up to six (6) months in jail, a $500.00 fine, and even revoke the parent's drivers license. It is not uncommon for deadbeats to get jail time after failing to comply with a child support order after a contempt adjudication.

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