Family Law is one of the most emotionally difficult and confusing areas of the law in which you may find yourself. The Persaud Law Office has practiced family law for many years, and we can sympathize with your plight. If you need a family attorney, a custody lawyer, a guardianship attorney, or a divorce lawyer in Bartlesville, we can help.
The Persaud Law Office represents both wives and husbands in divorce cases. You may need a divorce lawyer, if:
You are going through a divorce;
you have been divorced in the past, and you want to change custody, visitation, or child support;
your ex-spouse is refusing to follow the terms of your divorce decree; or
your ex-spouse is accusing you of not following the terms of your divorce decree.
You will likely need a lawyer to assist you in a divorce case. Oklahoma family law is so complicated that few non-lawyers can understand all of their rights and obligations, and the legal procedures involved, in a divorce case. Furthermore, divorce cases are very emotional, so you will likely be too emotionally involved in your case to be able to objectively see what is the best course of action to take in court. For more information on when you need a lawyer, see my blog post: Should you represent yourself?
Bartlesville's Child Support Attorney
Child support can be confusing and complicated. If you encounter a child support issue that you do not understand, it would be wise to consult an attorney. Child support must be ordered in any case where the custody or visitation of children is at issue. This includes divorce, separation, annulment, paternity, or guardianship cases.
Child Support In Oklahoma
Child support must be ordered in any case where the custody or visitation of children is at issue. This includes divorce, separation, annulment, paternity, or guardianship cases. When a court orders child support, the non-custodial parent must pay child support to the custodial parent or guardian.
Courts compute child support in accordance with a state-mandated formula. This formula takes into account the number of days each parent spends with a child, each parent’s income, as well as other expenses that each parent incurs. To see how much your child support obligation will be under the state guidelines, click here, follow the instructions, download the form, and type in the relevant data.
In general, a court is required to order child support pursuant to the guidelines. The court may only deviate from the guidelines if deviation is in the best interests of the child, and if one of the following is true:
a. the amount of support so indicated is unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances,
b. the parties are represented by counsel and have agreed to a different disposition, or
c. one party is represented by counsel and the deviation benefits the unrepresented party.
If the court deviates from the state-mandated guidelines, the court must make specific findings as to why deviation is in the best interests of the child. After a court orders child support, child support may be modified, when a parent shows that there has been a material change in circumstances. Child support may not be modified retroactively.
When Does Child Support End?
In general, child support terminates when a child turns eighteen. If a child is over eighteen and is still attending high school, the child support obligation continues until the child graduates from high school or until the child turns twenty, whichever occurs first. If, however, a child is mentally or physically disabled, and will not be capable of supporting himself as an adult, the child support obligation may continue after the child turns eighteen. This continuation of child support can only occur, though, if the disability existed before the child turned eighteen.
If there are several children involved, the child support obligation is not automatically reduced when only one of the children ceases to be eligible. If there is more than one child, and one child ceases to be eligible to receive child support, then, the aging out of one child can be grounds for modifying child support. However, the parent wishing to modify the child support must first file a motion asking that the court modify the child support. A parent may not recalculate the amount of child support simply because one child ceases to be eligible.
Child support also terminates if the parent ordered to pay child support, dies.
Only a judge of a district court, or a judge of a DHS administrative tribunal, may change a child support order. A child support order does not terminate unless the parent ordered to pay dies, all children cease to be eligible, or until a district or administrative court judge terminates the order. If a state employee, who is not a district or administrative judge, tells you that you no longer have to pay child support, or tells you that you have to pay an amount different than the amount ordered by a district or administrative court, do not believe the state employee. You must pay the amount ordered by the district or administrative court.
How To Collect Child Support
If you want to collect child support, you may initiate the proceeding either in:
A district court (in a divorce, separation, annulment, paternity, guardianship case), or
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). The OAH may only decide child support issues – it cannot decide issues of custody or visitation. A court may also decide custody and visitation. Also, if there is a pending proceeding in the OAH, and either party files a case in a district court, then, any order of the district court will supersede an order of the OAH. Either party may appeal an order of the OAH, to district court. For further information about how to collect child support through OAH, read my blog post here.
As soon as a district court enters a child support order, it is an enforceable court order. If the OAH enters a child support order, the order is filed in district court, and then becomes an enforceable court order.
Once a child support order is entered, federal and state law require that an “income assignment” be ordered. This income assignment requires the non-custodial parent’s employer (or other person who owes regular income to the non-custodial parent) to withhold the amount child support from the non-custodial parent’s income. The employer must then send this amount to DHS, who then sends the money to the custodial parent.
How to Contest a Child Support Arrearage
In some cases, you may be able to contest a child support arrearage. To find out how, click on my blog post, "How to Contest Child Support Arrears."
What Happens If You Don't Pay Child Support?
If you are ordered to pay child support, and do not pay child support, you may face any or all of the following penalties:
You may be ordered to pay off the arrearage.
You may be criminally prosecuted under state law. If you fail to pay child support, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. You may be fined up to $500, and/or imprisoned for up to one year. If you fail to pay child support for more than 1 year, or if you owe unpaid child support in an amount exceeding $5,000, or if you have a second or subsequent conviction for failure to pay child support, you are guilty of a felony. You may be fined up to $5,000, and/or imprisoned for up to four years.
You may be criminally prosecuted under federal law. If you fail to pay child support for more than 1 year, or if you owe unpaid child support in an amount exceeding $5,000, for a child who lives in another state, you are guilty of a federal misdemeanor. You may be fined up to $5,000, and/or imprisoned for up to six months.
You may also be convicted of a felony under federal law. If you
Travel in interstate or foreign commerce with the intent to avoid paying child support, if your obligation has remained unpaid for more than one year, or is greater than $5,000, or
Fail to pay child support for more than two years, or if you owe child support in an amount exceeding $10,000, for a child who lives in another state, or
Have a second or subsequent conviction under federal law for failure to pay child support, then
You are guilty of a federal felony. You may be fined up to $250,000, and/or imprisoned for up to two years.
You may be punished by contempt of court. You may be fined up to $500, and/or imprisoned for up to six months.
Money may be garnished from your bank account, to pay off the arrearage.
A lien may be placed on your property.
A court, or DHS, may revoke any recreational license or permit, which a state or a municipality has issued to you . Until November 1, 2020, a court or DHS can also revoke your driver’s licenses and professional licenses. Effective November 1, 2020, the state will no longer be able to revoke a driver's or professional license for failure to pay child support. If your driver's license has been revoked for failure to pay child support, click here to see how you can get your license reinstated.
DHS may intercept your tax refunds.
The Department of State may deny you a passport.
Your child may be adopted without your consent, if you do not pay child support for twelve consecutive months out of the last fourteen months before the adoptive parent files the petition for adoption.
Who is Kyle Persaud?
Kyle Persaud has practiced family law in Oklahoma since 2009. He strives to ensure that children receive adequate financial support. He also endeavors to see that courts, and DHS Child Support Enforcement, provide fair and just treatment to parents ordered to pay child support.