Raising a child as a married couple is expensive. Raising a child after divorce is all the more strenuous on your finances. Oklahoma allows the creation and enforcement of child support orders to help the divorced parent of lesser income make ends meet after their marriage ends. In this second blog entry of three, we discuss what every divorcing parent should know about child support in Oklahoma.
How Oklahoma Calculates Child Support Amounts
Child support is more rigid in its legal application than custody and visitation because Oklahoma law prescribes the amount of child support, which will be mandated based on numerous variables. Statutory authority [43 O.S. § 118 (A)(1)] dictates that during a divorce the court “shall make provision for guardianship, custody, medical care, support and education of the children.” Understanding how that “provision” is determined is critical to understanding how child support will pan out in your divorce.
Child support is constructed by a complex calculation set out by Oklahoma Statute 43 O.S. § 118. This calculation — called the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines — is based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the parents lived together. This determination is based on each parent’s “gross monthly income,” which includes any income from both active and passive sources, unless excluded specifically by the statute.
Active and passive sources of income considered in child support include:
- Monthly income before taxes
- Overtime pay
- Supplemental income
- Disability benefits
- Unemployment insurance
- Social Security benefits
- Monetary gifts
- Miscellaneous sources of income
What is Pro Rata Percentage of Income?
The total income considered for child support amounts is adjusted by certain expenses each parent spends throughout the month for the child, which are typically split based on a parent’s pro rata percentage of income. The pro rata percentage is each parent’s percentage of the total combined income earned. For example, if one parent makes $6,000.00 per month in total income and the other parent makes $4,000.00 per month in total income, the combined gross income would be $10,000. Expenses are then split according to the percentage of income each parent contributes to the total. Therefore, the parent making $6,000.00 per month would be responsible for paying 60% of the child care expenses and the parent making $4,000.00 per month would be responsible for the remaining 40%.
Visitation Can Alter Child Support Amounts
The amount of child support owed is impacted by the number of overnight visits each parent exercises with the child. Oklahoma law provides for what is called a “Shared Parenting Credit” that reduces the child support obligation of the payer if certain overnights visits are exercised. The adjustment is available to a noncustodial parent who receives in excess of 120 overnights with the child each year. The more overnights you exercise with your child the better, but your child support will not be impacted until the visitation schedule provides for at least 121 overnight visits.
Petitioning for a Fair Amount of Child Support
Child support can be modified at any time following the entry of the original child support order if there is a change in circumstances that justifies the modification. A change in circumstances would be justified if either party’s income changes substantially, or if the number of overnights exercised with the children changes dramatically from what was contemplated in the original child support computation.
Not confident in the income amount your ex-spouse reports? You are entitled to the other parent’s income information each year following April 15th by making a written request to the other parent for their previous year’s W-2 forms, 1099 forms, or other wage and tax information.
If you are interested in getting an estimation of your child support computation, click here to visit the official Oklahoma Department of Human Service child support calculator page. To receive personalized and attentive legal counsel regarding your child support case, you can come to Smith Simmons. Our Oklahoma City family law attorneys bring decades of combined legal insight and experience to every case we accept. Find out more by contacting us at (855) 973-8877 today.