The Oklahoma Child Support Guideline determines the amount of support parents are expected to provide their child, either in the form of money spent as the primary custodial parent or as the non-custodial parent with obligatory support payments to the custodial parent. One of the key factors for calculating the support amount based on the Oklahoma guidelines is both parents’ gross income. Keep reading today’s blog to learn what is included in your gross income to estimate a child support payment.
Calculating Child Support According to the Oklahoma Child Support Guideline
Incorporating Your Gross Income
The first step in calculating a child support award in Oklahoma is to determine each parent's adjusted gross income. Gross income can include several different calculations, including:
- actual monthly income or income equivalent to a 40-hour work week;
- average monthly income while employed during the previous 3 years;
- minimum wage paid for a 40-hour work week; or
- imputed monthly income for a person with comparable education, training, and experience.
After determining gross income, you and the other parent can refer to the Oklahoma Child Support Guideline Schedule to determine your base child support amount, which is calculated from the combined income of both parents and the number of children in the household.
Note that each parent's percentage share of the combined gross monthly family income determines their percentage share of the child support obligation. The parent who is not the primary custodian of the child generally becomes the "obligor," who pays the primary custodian a proportionate share of the base support. Medical and dental insurance premiums for the child are generally allocated between the parents in the same proportion as their adjusted gross income and added to the base child support obligation.
What Happens in High-Income Cases?
Keep in mind that Oklahoma's child support guideline schedule goes up to $15,000 per month total combined income. If parents make more than that, the court will determine an additional amount beyond what the guidelines establish. To make this support decision, they will consider:
- the child's actual needs;
- both parents' ability to pay; and
- the child's prior standard of living.
Courts have used various methods to calculate support in high income cases. Some might review the specific needs of the child and assign child support on that basis. Others could order support based on the top figure from the guideline chart and order direct payment of additional expenses like private school or travel.
Be aware there are limits to the benefits provided by even the wealthiest parents, though, referred to in Oklahoma as the "three pony rule” – that is, even if the parents can afford it, no child needs three ponies.
If you have legal questions or concerns about a child support arrangement, whether you are in the process of negotiating an agreement or seek to modify an existing agreement, our firm can guide you through the legal process. Income calculations can be nuanced and complex matters that end up being the deciding factor for a child support negotiation. As a result, it is important to let an experienced legal professional take the reins. After all, you probably have a million other things to think about, such as child custody and adapting to post-divorce life.
Let Nichols Dixon PLLC guide you through the child support calculation process in Oklahoma. Contact our firm to schedule an initial consultation to get started.