Stillwater Child Support Attorney
Pursuant to Oklahoma law, all noncustodial parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children, regardless of whether or not those children were born out of a marriage. This means that custodial parents are entitled to receive child support from the noncustodial parent regardless of whether the couple was married.
Oklahoma law establishes statutory Child Support Guidelines, largely predicated upon the joint gross incomes of the parties, along with several other factors that determine the exact amount owed by the noncustodial parent each month.
Notwithstanding Oklahoma’s predetermined Child Support Guidelines, most parties go through the child support process blindly without a meaningful understanding of how payments are calculated or what factors can be taken into consideration in determining the exact amount of the child support payment that is owed.
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This fundamental misunderstanding of the child support system results in frequent injustices to both the custodial and noncustodial parent. A noncustodial parent may find themselves paying too much child support, while a custodial parent may find that they are entitled to higher monthly payments or additional child support benefits given their circumstance.
An experienced and compassionate Stillwater child support attorney will help you gain a clear understanding all of the factors and circumstances to be considered in order to ensure that your children receive all of the necessary child support benefits to which they are entitled, assuring them their best possible standard of living.
Too many hard working people make the mistake of hiring attorneys that are either inexperienced in child support matters, or purely financially driven, sending their clients exorbitant bills, which never seem to end as they drag their client’s case out month after month.
Our office is different in that we blend experience, compassion, and hard work with a grounded concern for our client and his or her family’s long-term wellbeing. We believe that going through a divorce or custody battle is hard enough in itself, and that no one deserves to be raked over the coals at a time when they are particularly emotionally vulnerable. Rather, they deserve an advocate that is not only experienced, aggressive, and competent, but one that is also empathetic to their emotional and financial circumstances as well.
Here are some of the topics our office regularly addresses as we strive to assist our clients:
Amount of Child Support Owed
The amount of child support owed under Oklahoma’s Guidelines varies in every case, meaning no two cases are ever the same. Some of the primary variables taken into consideration include the gross monthly income of each parent, the number of children to be supported, the number of nights per year each child resides with each parent, the monthly expenses related to health insurance and child care, and the number of other children residing with each parent who are not the subject of this child support action.
Additionally, apart from the Guidelines, courts are granted great discretion to factor other benefits and expenses into the formula such as health insurance, daycare, private school tuition, as well as other costs relating to the child’s extracurricular activities.
Each of the considered factors impacts the total amount of monthly child support owed differently. And while some of these variables may be relatively easy to compute, others are not. For example, the calculation of a party’s gross monthly income can be challenging or problematic in situations where that parent is self-employed or works on a commission basis. In these cases, income amounts are likely to fluctuate from month to month.
Our office understands how confusing some of these factors can be and we are skilled in answering all of your questions and navigating you through the confusion to get the best possible outcome for you and your children. Call an experienced Stillwater child support attorney at Murray Law Firm today so that we can help you compute the correct and accurate amount of child support that you should be paying or receiving.
Unhappy with the Amount of Support
A common scenario occurs when the parties reach an agreement among themselves as to the amount of child support owed. In such cases courts will generally approve the agreement, however if the amount deviates from the amount established by Oklahoma’s Guidelines, the court must deem the agreed amount to be “in the best interest” of the child. Courts will strike down all such agreements that appear unreasonable and inequitable, and do not approve such agreements unless each party is represented by an attorney.
We would strongly urge you to contact a dedicated Stillwater child support attorney at our firm if you and your partner are planning to submit to an agreed amount of child support that deviates from the Guidelines so that we may assist you so in getting your proposed child support payment structure may approved by the courts.
Modifying an Agreement
A prior child support order may be modified or amended if the moving party is able to demonstrate to the Court that there exists “material change in circumstances” between the parties since the entry of the existing child support order. Some circumstances that constitute a “material change in circumstances” include an increase or decrease in either party’s gross income, or a change in the children’s’ needs.
As child support in Oklahoma is predicated upon income, rather than expenses, a parent’s claim of increased expenses will seldom entitle them to a modification of a prior child support Order. Additionally, it is important to note that child support orders may only be amended prospectively and not retroactively, meaning that it is important for a party seeking a modification to do so as soon as reasonably possible.
If you have experienced a material change in your circumstances since the entry of your standing child support order that is leading to a possible overpayment or underpayment in child support, call an experienced Stillwater child support attorney at Murray Law Firm today so that we can help you establish the correct child support payment in light of your altered circumstances. It is important that you do not wait because courts cannot retroactively apply the new adjusted amount that you should be paying or receiving.
When Do Child Support Obligations Cease In Oklahoma?
Generally speaking, a child support obligation ceases when the child turns 18 years old, or of if the child is still in high school, child support is owed until the child graduates or turns 19 years old, whichever is shorter.
In situations where child support is owed for more than one child, the obligation for the other children likely changes. A party must petition the Court for a modification for the support owed to the remaining children. When the obligation to pay child support cease, child support is no longer owed to the custodial party unless there exists an arrearage for past due support.
Call us today to speak with an experienced Stillwater child support attorney if you believe that the amount of child support should be adjusted to reflect a change that has occurred as a result of a ceased child support obligation.
Enforcing Child Support Payments
One of the most common questions we are asked is how to enforce a child support order when the other party is habitually delinquent or refuses to make payments all together.
The primary means of enforcing an award for child support are through wage assignment or wage garnishment. In such situations, the amount of child support owed is automatically deducted from the obligor’s paycheck and forwarded by the state to the custodial parent.
However, wage assignments and garnishments can become tricky if the owing party is self-employed or jumps from job to job, or if he or she has a noncompliant employer. Two of the more extreme measures to compel payment are contempt of court proceedings and license revocations.
With regard to holding the obligor in contempt of court, the custodial parent can petition the court for a contempt order finding that the owing party is in violation of the existing child support order. Upon a showing that the obligated party knowingly and willfully failed to comply with the existing child support order, the non-paying party may be held in contempt of court and the judge may sentence that party to up to six months in jail and subject them to fines as well.
Another tool a court has at its disposal is the revocation of any state licenses held by the non-paying party, including professional licenses and drivers’ licenses, upon a petition filed by the custodial parent.
If you are having trouble enforcing an existing child support order, call us for a consultation today so that we may take immediate steps to see that your child support order is enforced and that your child or children receive the financial support to which they are entitled under the law.
Frequently Asked Child Support Questions
How is child support determined in Oklahoma?
If you’re going through a divorce process or even a paternity action, if you’re the noncustodial parent of a minor child, you may be required to pay child support. In that case, the question is about how the state of Oklahoma determines what your child support amount is. It’s determined in a monthly amount based on your monthly adjusted gross income and the other parent’s monthly adjusted gross income. There are some factors included with how many overnight periods you have the minor child for, your visitation, and some other miscellaneous factors, including whether there are child care costs, or health insurance for the minor child’s coverage being provided by you or the other parent. In doing so, the numbers are all put into a calculator, which is considered the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines Calculator. In doing so, the formula comes out with a final number of what you will be obligated to pay per month for your child’s maintenance. If you have any questions about that, you need to contact an experienced divorce attorney to assess what factors will be considered in calculating your adjusted gross income.
How can I get my child’s other parent to pay child support?
If you’re faced with a situation where you have custody of you and your spouse’s minor child and your spouse is court-ordered to pay child support, but is failing to do so, the question becomes what can you do to get him or her to pay? In that case, you need to contact an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process, which would involve filing an application for contempt, alleging that your spouse is failing to abide by the court order by not paying the child support. In doing so, the case will either be resolved by the spouse purging themselves by maintaining the payment in full that is back-due, or you’ll have to go to trial and the judge will then render a decision. If found guilty, the spouse can potentially even serve time in jail for noncompliance. You need to, again, contact an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process.
Can I waive the right to child support in Oklahoma?
If you’re going through a divorce process involving minor children and have a child support obligation, the question sometimes becomes, can I waive my child support obligation, whether I’m the payor or the payee? It kind of depends. There needs to be a finding by the court that it serves the best interest of the minor children, given the financial resources of both parents, and the financial needs of the minor children. You need to contact an experienced divorce attorney to assess your situation.
How are extracurricular activities handled after divorce?
If you and your spouse are going through a divorce process and you have minor children, oftentimes those minor children are involved in extracurricular activities. Those extracurricular activities can sometimes become very costly and quickly add up. You need to account for that expense in your divorce decree or your joint custody plan, if that’s applicable in your case. In doing so, you’ll avoid any further financial surprises down the road in who is going to be responsible for what portion of those activities. Contact an experienced divorce attorney to properly account for that in your divorce action.
Can I collect child support if my child’s other parent lives out of state?
If you’re considering filing for divorce and you have your minor children in the state of Oklahoma, but your soon-to-be ex-spouse resides in another state, are you going to have to be concerned with whether you will be able to receive child support if the court orders him or her to pay? The answer to that question is no. There are certain acts in place that require uniform collection for child support orders and that will prevent any sort of issue in you receiving your court-ordered child support. You’ll have to contact an experienced divorce attorney to make sure that happens.
How do I modify a child support order?
If you’re faced with a situation where custody of your child has changed from your spouse to you and you need to change your child support obligation that you were previously paying, you’ll need to contact an experienced divorce attorney who will be able to file a motion to modify your child support obligation that will remove your obligation. This may actually impose an obligation on your spouse to pay child support to you for the benefit of your minor child.
When does child support end?
If you’re a parent that’s having to pay child support per a court order, the question becomes, “How long do I need to pay that?” The Oklahoma law requires that you pay your child support obligation until the child reaches the age of 18,or if the child is consistently and currently enrolled in high school or secondary school, you’re required to make that payment either until the child graduates from high school or the child turns 20 years of age, whichever case is sooner.
Do I have to pay child support if my child refuses to see me?
If you’re going through a divorce process, or you’ve already gone through the process, and you’re obligated to pay child support, sometimes the questions arises, “Do I have to pay the child support if I’m not receiving the visitation I’m ordered to receive? The answer to that is yes, you do have to continue to pay that. They are considered two mutually exclusive orders and you cannot cease payment just because you’re not receiving the visitation as ordered. There are other forms of relief that you can seek, which would be enforcement of your visitation rights through a motion that your attorney can file on your behalf, but you will be found in contempt for not paying child support if it is a court order. The advice is to always maintain currency on your child support obligation as ordered by the court and contact an experienced divorce attorney if you have any questions about a situation similar to what I’ve just explained.
Contact An Experienced Stillwater Child Support Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have a child support question or an issue that has arisen in an existing child support case, whether you are the custodial or noncustodial parent, or if you are contemplating a divorce or separation and beginning a new case, do not hesitate to contact a dedicated Stillwater child support attorney at our office today.
We are hardworking compassionate attorneys that center our practice upon child support issues and domestic relations. You will find highly competent and sympathetic attorneys eager to assist you with your child support or domestic relations case every step of the way to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your children. Call today!
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