There are several important topics that need to be considered when you are going through a divorce, especially if there are any minor children in the family. The division of property, spousal support or alimony, child custody, visitation rights, and child support are all factors that typically need to be considered during a divorce. In many divorce cases, one parent will have custody and the other will have visitation rights and child support obligations. While it’s widely understood that children need financial support from both parents, determining the amount of child support that is required can be overwhelming. When minor children are involved, the main goal is to disrupt the children’s lives as little as possible.
Fortunately, at the law firm of Self Legal Group, PLLC in Oklahoma City, our divorce attorneys are experienced in divorce cases and family law which includes calculating child support. We can guide you through the legal process and clarify the more confusing aspects of divorce such as child support calculations.
STATE OF OKLAHOMA CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
The primary way that child support is calculated in Oklahoma is with the child support guidelines. Oklahoma has had child support guidelines since 1987. These guidelines determine the amount of support required from a parent based on their income level, the percentage of time spent with the child, and the child’s prior standard of living. The payment of child support is meant to maintain, provide for, and educate the child which is seen as each parent’s duty. Child support is determined by the court and enforced based on the belief that whenever possible, each parent should be responsible for supporting their children.
HOW DO THE CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES WORK?
Child support is generally calculated using the child support guidelines mentioned above. These guidelines act as a sort of formula that allows the court to calculate child support based on each parent’s income and percentage of time spent caring for the child.
The first step is calculating each parent’s gross income, and the combined incomes equal the gross family income. Gross income is calculated in a few different ways including the monthly income, the average monthly income during the previous three years, and the minimum wage for a forty-hour workweek. If a parent is unemployed or makes less than minimum wage, their child support will still be calculated based on minimum wage.
Base child support is calculated using the Oklahoma Child Support Guideline Schedule. Once the gross monthly income is calculated, it is determined what percentage each parent contributes to the gross family income, what the total monthly obligation to each child is, and what percentage each parent should contribute to the base monthly obligation.
CHILD SUPPORT AND MEDICAL INSURANCE
The cost of your child’s medical and dental insurance is also factored into the monthly child support obligation. Each parent is responsible for medical and dental insurance premiums in proportion to their adjusted gross family income. Your divorce lawyer can help you determine what this calculation will look like in your case.
CHILD SUPPORT BASED ON CUSTODY
While the Oklahoma Child Support Guideline Schedule provides a way for the base child support obligation to be calculated, some other factors can come into play. This child support guideline is based on the standard visitation schedule for non-custodial parents. However, if each parent has physical custody of the child for more than 120 nights per year, this is considered shared parenting. Similarly, child support payments are calculated differently when split custody is a factor. A different calculation is used, factoring in the assumption that additional support is being provided with increased custody.
CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT
Post-divorce child support modifications can be made when there is a material and permanent change of circumstances. These changes can include an increase or decrease in income or a change in the child’s needs. When these material changes in circumstances occur, it is advisable to work with an attorney to help you modify the existing child support order and secure the support that is needed.
A divorce and family law attorney can also help you enforce a child support order. If the parent who is the obliger has not paid child support, an attorney can help you bring a contempt action to court and can also help you pursue wage garnishment through the Oklahoma Child Support Enforcement Office.
CONTACT SELF LEGAL GROUP, PLLC
Choosing to file for divorce can be a difficult and daunting decision, especially if there are any minor children involved. If you are going through a divorce or thinking about filing, the best thing you can do is work with an attorney you can trust. An experienced divorce and family law attorney will help you be sure that you are receiving the proper child support, make modifications as needed, enforce the child support order, and represent the best interest of you and your children in the event of a divorce case.
If you are considering filing a petition for divorce and will need to calculate child support payments, contact our team of divorce and family law attorneys at Self Legal Group, PLLC in Oklahoma City. Our lawyers can help you assess what your divorce case and child support order will look like and fight for the rights of you and your children. Contact one of our attorneys in OKC today for a free 15-minute consultation.