Supporting your child is a mandatory obligation under Oklahoma law. If you have children, you are legally obligated to support them. To understand your own obligations under Oklahoma law, it is helpful to understand how Oklahoma courts calculate child support.
Joint custody does not mean that either parent is freed from their obligation to support their child. Both parents must contribute to that support.
How Child Support is Calculated in Oklahoma
Oklahoma uses statutory guidelines that presume levels of support at various income levels. Both parents’ income, minus certain allowable living expenses, is plugged into a calculator to determine a guideline support number. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118
The court then looks to see how many other children are being supported; how much time the child is spending with each parent; any alimony being paid; medical and dental insurance costs; and daycare expenses. A judge will then calculate a figure that both parents, including the custodial parent, must contribute to the support of their child. This amount is subject to adjustment.
Adjustments to Calculated Support
Adjusting the guideline figure usually results from looking at the number of overnights that the child spends with both parents. The basic calculated 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 where 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.
When one parent has sole physical custody of a child, that child spends many more nights with that parent. The other parent usually pays more child support as a result.
If parents each have similar income levels, they can match the number of overnights the child spends with each parent to zero out support. That way, each parent is required to provide the child with a similar amount of support rather than paying child support to one parent. Other things such as day care and medical insurance expenses will need to be accounted for and split between the parents.
Court Approval of Child Support Adjustments is Necessary
Courts are mandated to look after the best interests of the child in making support adjustments. If you or your spouse are looking to make support guideline adjustments, know that the court must approve those arrangements.
No deviation may be made that would seriously impair the ability of the custodial parent to maintain minimally adequate housing, food, and clothing for the children.
It is important to get the help of an experienced Okmulgee family law attorney when you are seeking to understand the ins and outs of Oklahoma child support rules.
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