One of the most confusing and contentious parts of a divorce settlement is child support. It’s common for a divorcing couple to disagree on how much child support one party should pay, which is why having an experienced Oklahoma family lawyer on your side is so helpful. In this blog post, we’ll spend some time going over the basics of child support in Oklahoma and how you can make sure your case is handled fairly.
Every child support case in Oklahoma starts the same way: with a support order. Support orders are issued by judges and by the Department of Human Services. Many times they are included in a divorce decree or paternity settlement, but this is not always the case.
A support order will dictate the obligation of one parent towards the other. Obligation can take many forms, including direct child support payments, medical payments, or spousal support. In every case, though, obligation is calculated using many factors to ensure that it is as fair to both parties as possible.
How does a court calculate child support? The amount of support one parent must pay the other is never fixed between cases. Each support case is calculated using a formula that includes both parents’ incomes, the number of nights each child spends in one parent’s care versus the other’s, the costs of childcare for each child, and a number of other factors.
In general, the deciding factor for who will pay child support is the amount of time the child spends with each parent. If your child or children spend more time at your house than with your former spouse, including overnight stays, then generally you will be the child support recipient. If your children spend less time with you, you will most likely end up paying support to the other parent. However, this may not be the case if the parent in primary custody has a significantly higher income than the other parent and the amount of time the child spends with each parent is close to equal. If custodial time is very unequal, though, then the parent with less time will almost always pay the parent with more, regardless of income.
For the parent that must pay child support, collection can happen in several ways. Generally parents make payments through the Oklahoma Support Registry, which collects payments and distributes them according to support orders. However, payments can also be collected through employers (much like a wage garnishment), interception of tax refunds or state aid, and legal settlements.
Because child support is court-ordered, nonpayment of support is a criminal offense. An Oklahoma lawyer can help you collect child support owed to you through the legal system, and if the non-payment is serious enough they may even take the case to the District Attorney to file criminal charges. Even if criminal charges aren’t filed, a judge can sentence a delinquent parent to as much as six months in jail for not paying support.
If you need help collecting child support owed to you, or you’re concerned about the fairness of a court’s support order, contact the law firm of Bryan Stratton today. As an experienced and qualified Oklahoma family lawyer, Bryan Stratton has the expertise you need to get the outcome you deserve. Call 405-601-4411 today to schedule your free legal consultation.