Making Child Support Easier
Child support can be a thorny issue in Oklahoma, even in the most amicable of divorces.
Couples with children facing divorce in Oklahoma are legally required to continue to support their children. Child support in Oklahoma is determined by statutory guidelines that presume levels of support at various income levels. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118
Income along with other necessities are plugged into a calculator to determine a guideline child support number. In essence, parents add their adjusted income together, and subtract certain allowable expenses.
Once these figures are added together, the court looks to see how many other children are being supported, and how much time the child is spending with each parent, the amount of other support payments a parent might have — including alimony or other child support — the costs of medical and dental insurance and day care costs. All of that is used to arrive at a figure that both parents are required to contribute to the support of their child.
However, there are adjustments that can be made to the guidelines.
Adjustments To Calculated Support
In arriving at this figure, the court looks at the amount of time a child spends with their respective parents, usually based on the number of overnights the child spends. The basic calculated child 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. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118E
That means that 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 and dental insurance expenses — will need to be accounted for and split between the parents.
If one of the parents has a higher income level, that parent would have fewer overnights to balance out the support — again issues of day care, medical and dental expenses must be split between the parents.
In addition, if the parents are able to come to this sort of arrangement, the court must still approve it, taking the best interests of the child into consideration.
It is also possible to deviate from guidelines if the court finds it in the best interest of a child, but that can be a high burden of proof to meet, and is usually reserved for cases in which there are extraordinary or special needs that must be met.
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. Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118H
Typical deviations from guidelines occur when there are extraordinary medical needs not covered by insurance, for example, or in the face of extreme financial hardship on the part of one of the parents.
In all of these cases, it is helpful to understand how the law applies to your unique case. No two cases are the same, and an experienced Muskogee family law attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your case and can help you resolve any outstanding child support issues or questions you may have.
Confidential Consultation: Muskogee Divorce Attorney
If you’re considering all of your options at the moment and need to know how best to handle the issues you will face, call an experienced Muskogee divorce attorney today at (918) 913-0725, or toll-free at 1 (888) 447-7262 (Wirth Law).
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