Everything you need to know about Oklahoma child support laws, updated for 2020.
Oklahoma child support laws do not allow judges to order support beyond the age of 19 unless the child is mentally or physically disabled.
That statement raises several questions. For example, how does the judge determine my obligation? Can I get retroactive support? Who pays for the child’s higher education?
If these questions and the ones related to them keep you up at night. Then you landed in the right place! Here is everything you need to know about upkeep in Oklahoma.
How to apply for child support services in Oklahoma.
To apply for support services in Oklahoma, parents must contact the CSS (Child Support Services) via this number 1-800-522-2922.
Child support application steps in Oklahoma:
- Download and complete Form 03EN001E (Child Support Services Form)
- Mail the application to Case Initiation Center at P.O. Box 248843 Oklahoma City,73124-8843.
What to remember:
- Families receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) or Medicaid need not apply for services. They qualify for child support automatically.
- To access the CSS parent “locate only “services, you must also complete ‘Locate Only Rights & Responsibilities (Form 03EN007E).’
- Parental location service is only available to custodial parents.
- The SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food benefits program helps low-income households buy nutritious food at authorized farmers’ markets or retail food stores. Apply for SNAP services here.
- Oklahoma adopted UIFAS (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act). Meaning, you cannot escape child support by moving to another state.
Note that the application process can be lengthy because you may have to go through multiple agencies. But the caseworker assigned to you or an attorney will help you throughout the process.
Overall, the application process requires you to get a court order, preferably right after the child is born if you are not married. Reason being. 2014 Oklahoma Statutes Title 43. Marriage and Family 43-1181 -3 (B) reads;
“A child support order shall not be modified retroactively regardless of whether support was ordered in a temporary order, a decree, an order establishing paternity, modification of an order of support, or other action to establish or to enforce support.”
What that means is in Oklahoma the courts or CSS cannot modify child support retroactively but can order retroactive payments. Thus, you may end up placing more burden on the paying parent than there need be if you apply late. So, apply as soon as possible.
How to establish paternity in Oklahoma
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services says that any parent can visit their local offices to open a child support case to establish paternity at zero cost. But, if the test comes out positive, the law requires the father to reimburse the cost of paternity.
In Oklahoma, there are two ways to establish paternity. One is through the signing of AOP (Acknowledgement of Paternity), or via court action.
What to remember:
- When signing an AOP at the hospital, you will need a witness.
- If a baby is born to a married couple, the man automatically becomes the father.
- Paternity establishment allows the child to enjoy benefits such as inheritance rights.
How to determine child support in Oklahoma
OKDHS (Oklahoma Department of Human Services) offers parents two ways to estimate child support obligation. See the snippets below.
Oklahoma child support excel worksheet
Page 1 of 8 Oklahoma child support computation worksheet
Download the excel calculator and fillable forms in the link provided and if you need any assistance completing or using the form, call child support services at (405)522-2273.
How to calculate child support in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s child support estimation formula is based on the combined income(s) of both parents, cost of necessary child care expenses, work and educational expenses of either party, continuing healthcare costs, amount of parenting time, and the cost of insurance.
What to remember when using the calculator:
- Gross income means parental income(s) from all sources.
- Excluded incomes include child support paid to other children, adoption assistance subsidy, foster care payments, TNAF, and SSI.
- The court will impute income if the parent is willfully and voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
- The custodial parent may have to pay support obligation if his/her parenting time is less than 60%.
Oklahoma child support deviation factors
The state formula does not always yield fair results, in such a situation or if the court determines that the ordered amount is not in the best interests of the child. Oklahoma child support laws allow the judge to deviate.
Therefore, grounds for support order deviation in Oklahoma include:
- The child’s extraordinary educational expenses or medical expenses.
- Economic hardship.
- Children in foster care.
How to modify child support in Oklahoma
When ordered, most child support orders are reasonable because often the child is young. But as he or she grows, the child’s needs change. This creates a scenario where some parents are unable to fully satisfy their child’s needs despite getting support.
To counter this problem, Oklahoma child support laws allow either parent to petition the court for a modification.
To begin the process, you must:
- Send a written request for modification to child support offices in your area. Or call 800-522-2922.
- After sending your application, the DHS will review your case then tell you if you qualify. You can do this yourself or through a lawyer.
To modify child support without a lawyer, parents should download self-help forms here.
What to remember
Oklahoma child support laws require a “significant change in circumstances” to award support modifications. What that means is if your current order does not contain medical support, or is not following the state’s child support guidelines, or if the amount of support will change by at least 20% as per the guidelines. Then you qualify for a support modification.
Also, a significant change in circumstances refers to:
- A change in daycare or medical insurance.
- Court-ordered custody change.
- Verified mental or physical disability.
- Or a significant change in parental income such as involuntary unemployment.
What happens if you do not pay child support in Oklahoma?
The go-to method for upkeep collection in Oklahoma is income or wage withholding because the process guarantees timely payments. However, not all parents in the state earn wages or are employed. Because of that, the CSE or courts have other tools for collection including:
- Property or bank account liens: the DHS can collect child support from the delinquent parent’s bank account or attach a lien on his/her property until the parent pays.
- Income assignment: the same as income withholding where the DHS or court orders the paying parent’s employer to tap child support at the source.
- License revocation: the court or DHS through other state agencies can suspend or revoke the payor’s recreational, professional, or business license.
- Tax offset: the DHS may intercept the delinquent parents’ local, state, or federal taxes.
- Vehicle registration suspension: that includes boats, motorcycles, airplanes, trucks, and so on.
- The state department may suspend, deny, or revoke the paying parent’s passport.
What is important to remember is that you can prevent collection action and jail by paying your obligation.
What is the punishment for contempt of court in Oklahoma?
The purpose of contempt of court charges in Oklahoma is to ‘encourage’ payment. What that means is jail is often the court’s last resort.
But remember, non-support is a violation of Oklahoma child support laws, meaning, if you fail to pay, you will face punishment. Remember, in Oklahoma, all the accusing party must do is prove that there is an order in place and you failed to honor it, and you had knowledge of the existing order
What you risk for a first offense is a $500 fine or six months imprisonment.
21 OK Stat 21-566.1 (2014): What to remember
- Punishment may include a work release program or ‘on weekend’ incarceration to allow the parent to secure employment or engage in court-ordered activities.
- The court may order community service or require the parent to complete an alternative program such as mediation, counseling, educational training, or employment training.
Criminal nonsupport in Oklahoma
You will face criminal non-support charges if the court determines that you willfully and knowingly refused to pay child support. Remember, the courts may punish you at both state and federal levels in such a scenario.
Criminal non-support in Oklahoma depending on the amount owed is either a misdemeanor or a felony. For felony charges, the punishment is a maximum sentence of four years or a $5000 fine.
How long does child support last in Oklahoma?
18 years unless the child has not completed high school in which case your obligation will end on the child’s 19th birthday. Also, as mentioned, there is no statute of limitations on child support arrears in Oklahoma, thus, the law can come for you at any time.
What about college or university tuition?
If you can get your partner to agree to share higher education costs, then your obligation will end once you fulfill the terms and conditions of your agreement. but remember, for an agreement to be enforceable, the elements required are:
- Mutual assent.
- Expressed by a valid offer and acceptance.
- Adequate consideration capacity.
How to stop child support in Oklahoma
If child support termination is imminent, contact the DHS and receiving parent.
Additionally, kids in Oklahoma can opt for emancipation, an action that gives the child the rights of an adult.
To gain emancipation status in Oklahoma, the minor must petition the local court through a ‘next friend’, guardian, or representative. However, the courts recognize the following qualifications for emancipation.
- Your income must be legal and you must be able to manage your social and financial affairs.
- Be married.
- Enrolled in the US army.
- Parental consent.
- The child must live separately from his/her parents.
Overall, Oklahoma child support laws can be hard to navigate on your own, so we advise you to either work with a family court attorney full time or consult whenever stuck or unsure. Also, if you decide to represent yourself in court, do some reading on court procedures and legal requirements because the DHS and courts do not provide legal assistance.
More Oklahoma Laws