Parents have a legal duty to support their child. This includes financial support, whether or not the child stays with them. This is to ensure that the child has a good quality of life and gets access to resources necessary to meet essential needs. Parents who do not have custody of their child still have this obligation and may be ordered by a court to make monthly payments to support the care and upbringing of the child.
Child Support Process
Custodial parents in Oklahoma who want to open a child support case do so through the Child Support Services (CSS), which is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS). Parents who wish to apply can download the form and fill it or they can complete the application form online and print it out. This form can be found at https://oklahoma.gov/content/dam/ok/en/okdhs/documents/okdhs-form-library/03en001e.pdf. Parents who are receiving public financial assistance like Medicaid or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are automatically referred for child support and do not need to apply independently.
While applying, custodial parents need to provide information about the noncustodial parent such as full name, home address, phone number, email address, Social Security Number, employer’s details, etc. These details are necessary to help CSS locate the parent and serve a notice of the child support case. Until the parent has been served a notice physically, the case cannot progress. It is therefore important that the details provided are as accurate as possible, otherwise, there may be delays in establishing the case.
When the noncustodial parent has been located, the CSS can also assist in establishing the legal parentage of the child. If the parents were married when the child was born, or the child was born shortly after they separated, the husband is presumed to be the legal father of the child. If the parents were not married, there will be a need to legally establish the child’s paternity. The parents can fill a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This is usually done immediately after the child’s birth but can also be done at the Child Support Office before establishing the case. If the man does not believe he is the father of the child, genetic testing may be ordered to verify paternity. DNA samples are taken from the child and parents (usually cheek swabs) for analysis. If the test comes back with a 99% probability of fatherhood, the court will legally establish the man as the child’s father. More information on establishing paternity can be found at https://oklahoma.gov/content/dam/ok/en/okdhs/documents/okdhs-pdf-library/child-support-services/voluntarypaternity_css_06262018.pdf.
After the parent has been located and paternity has been established, CSS can move on with establishing the actual child support order, and a medical support order if applicable.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Oklahoma CSS does not issue paper checks for child support, however, there are options available for parents to receive their payment. The default option is the Oklahoma MasterCard debit card. This is a debit card issued by the state for parents who receive child support. When CSS receives and processes payments from the noncustodial parent, the funds are automatically transferred to the debit card account. This card is convenient as it does not require the parent have a previously existing bank account. Also, the card can be used to make purchases and withdrawals like a regular debit card. Parents who already receive public assistance will have their child support payments applied to the card they already have. More details on the card are available at https://oklahoma.gov/okdhs/services/ocss/debitcard.html.
The second available option is the use of direct deposit. This allows parents to receive the child support directly into their savings or checking account. In order to set up direct deposit, the parent must fill a Direct Deposit Enrollment Form. This can be found at http://www.okdhs.org/OKDHS%20PDF%20Library/Financial%20Services/OklahomaDirectDepositForm_fs_02082018.pdf.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support payments in Oklahoma are calculated based on the state guidelines. This takes into account the gross income of both parents, the costs of daycare services (where applicable), the special medical needs of the child (if any), the number of children being provided for, etc. Consideration is also given for the insurance premiums that a parent may be paying for the child’s health coverage. Further details about the calculations can be found at https://oklahoma.gov/okdhs/services/child-support-services/computation.html.
Enforcement of Child Support
The Child Support Services of Oklahoma has several actions they can take to enforce child support payments. These are usually applied when the noncustodial parent has arrears that have not been paid, either due to defaulting, part payment, late payment, etc. Some of these actions include:
Deducting the child support arrears from various income sources of the parent, intercepting tax refunds to pay for the outstanding support, denying passport applications, revoking licenses of the parent, seizing bank accounts and financial assets, reporting the parent to credit bureaus, intercepting lottery winnings, etc. The CSS can also file a contempt citation in district court which may lead to jail time for the parent. All these are done to enforce compliance with the child support obligation that has been established.