Oklahoma Child Support

Oklahoma child support amounts are based on the parents' income, the number of children to be supported, and other factors such as any extraordinary needs.

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All parents—regardless of their relationship with their coparent—have a legal duty to support their children. Parents can't waive their obligation to pay child support or agree to pay an amount that isn't approved by the court. Like all states, Oklahoma has uniform guidelines for calculating child support.

Who Pays Child Support in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, the parent who pays child support is called the "obligor," and the parent who receives the funds is called the "obligee" or "person entitled." (Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 118A (2022).) The court can order either parent to pay child support based on the criteria in the state's child support guidelines.

Oklahoma's Child Support Guidelines and Calculator

Oklahoma's child support guidelines are laid out in sections 118 through 120 of Title 43 of the Oklahoma Statutes. These guidelines determine the amount of money that parents at particular income levels are presumed to spend on items such as housing, food, transportation, basic educational expenses, clothing, and entertainment. The amounts in these guidelines are presumed by law to be an appropriate amount of total child support. (Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 118 (2022).)

Estimating Child Support Payments in Oklahoma

The base amount of child support each parent is responsible for reflects the percentage they contribute to the combined adjusted gross income (AGI) of the parties. You can use the Oklahoma online child support calculator to estimate how much support each parent might be required to pay (download and fill in the Child Support Computation sheet; the website also has a link to download instructions).

Calculate Each Parent's AGI

The first step in calculating an Oklahoma child support award is to determine each parent's AGI.

Types of income that the court will consider include:

  • salaries, wages, and tips
  • commissions, bonuses, and severance pay
  • military pay, and
  • passive income such as dividends, pensions, social security benefits, and unemployment insurance benefits.

The court examines each parent's sources and amount of income, then computes their individual AGIs by calculating the person's:

  • actual monthly income or income equivalent to a 40-hour work week (overtime may be included as the court deems equitable)
  • average monthly income while employed during the previous three years, or
  • imputed monthly income for a person with comparable education, training, and experience (see the discussion below for more information about imputing income).

The court will use whichever of these methods that it is the most equitable to arrive at a final determination of the parent's individual AGI. (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118B(C) (2022).)

For the self-employed, AGI includes work income minus "the ordinary and reasonable expenses necessary to produce such income." (Okla. Stat. tit. 43, § 118B(D) (2022).)

Imputing Income for Child Support

When a parent can't provide evidence of current or average income, or is underemployed (meaning they have the potential to make more), the court can consider the following factors to arrive at an imputed (assumed) monthly gross income:

  • the average wages and hours worked in the parent's industry and geographic area
  • the parent's education, training, work experience, and ability to work
  • wages the parent could earn consistent with the minimum wage rate of at least 25 hours a week
  • whether a court has determined the parent is willfully or voluntarily unemployed
  • the lifestyle of the parent, including ownership of valuable assets and resources
  • the role of the parent as caretaker of a handicapped or seriously ill child, and
  • any other factors the court believes are relevant.

(Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118B(C)(3) (2022).)

Combine the Parents' AGI

After calculating each parent's AGI, the court combines the two amounts. The court then determines what percentage of the total income is attributable to each parent.

EXAMPLE: Pat makes $2,000 per month. Jordan makes $3,000 per month. Their combined gross monthly income is $5,000. So Pats' income makes up 40% ($2,000/$5,000) of the total, and Jordan's income makes up 60% ($3,000/$5,000).

Apply the Combined AGI to the Oklahoma Child Support Schedule

Once the court has calculated the parents' combined AGI, it will turn to the Oklahoma Child Support Guideline Schedule to determine the parents' base child support. The schedule is based on the combined income of both parents and the number of children in the household.

EXAMPLE: Pat and Jordan have two children. Looking up Pat's and Jordan's combined AGI of $5,000 on the schedule, the base monthly child support obligation is $943.

The court then allocates responsibility for the monthly obligation based on each parent's percentage contribution to the total monthly AGI.

EXAMPLE: Jordan is responsible for 60% ($565.80) of the base monthly child support obligation. Pat is responsible for 40% ($377.20).

Parenting Time Can Change the Numbers

Even though each parent is responsible for a share of the total child support obligation, both parents won't be making monthly payments to each other. Instead, in most cases, the parent who is not the primary custodian of the child becomes the "obligor," and pays the primary custodian a proportionate share of the base support.

The Oklahoma child support guidelines schedule presumes a "standard" time-sharing or visitation schedule in which the non-custodial parent exercises 70-90 overnight visits each year. "Shared parenting" in Oklahoma means that each parent has physical custody of a child overnight for more than 120 nights each year. If the child support obligor exercises more than 120 overnight visits per year, the law presumes the obligor parent is spending more to care for the child. There is a complicated formula that adjusts child support depending on the additional number of overnight visits the obligor parent exercises. The more overnights, the greater the adjustment, and the less the obligor parent has to pay.

"Split custody" means that each parent has primary custody of one or more of the children. In split custody cases, separate computations are made for each parent and the amounts are offset against each other. The parent with the larger child support obligation pays the difference between the two amounts to the parent with the smaller child support obligation.

Adjustments for Additional Expenses

The court can make adjustments for other expenses. Adjustments are regularly made to account for health insurance costs, extraordinary costs of education (such as private school tuition), childcare, and extraordinary medical expenses.

EXAMPLE: Pat is the primary residential custodian. Pat pays $500 per month for childcare while she is at work. Jordan is therefore responsible for 60% ($300) of Pat's employment-related childcare.
Jordan's employer provides health and dental insurance for the children. This coverage costs Jordan $100 per month. Jordan is entitled to a credit for Pat's 40% share of the cost ($40). So when you factor in the credit for healthcare and the additional cost of childcare while Pat is at work, Jordan is obligated to pay Pat monthly child support in the amount of $825.80.





Gross Monthly Income




Percentage Share of Income



Base Monthly Obligation





Monthly Health Insurance Premium




Monthly Heath Insurance Premium Share



Premium Share Adjustment





Monthly Work and Education Related Child Care







When You Can Deviate From the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines

A court may deviate from (or approve the parents' agreement to deviate from) the child support guidelines when the:

  • deviation is in the child's best interests
  • amount of support without a deviation would be unjust or inequitable under the circumstances, or
  • obligee's ability to maintain minimally adequate housing, food, and clothing, or to provide basic necessities isn't seriously impaired.

Also, a judge can't approve a deviation unless both parties have an attorney or one party has an attorney and the deviation benefits the party without an attorney. (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118H (2022).)

Requirements for Oklahoma Child Support Agreements

Parents can always reach an agreement on the amount of child support, perhaps as part of an overall divorce settlement agreement. But a judge will need to review the agreement and will approve it only if it follows the guidelines—or provides support for deviating from the guidelines.

What Happens When the Parents' Income Exceeds $15,000 a Month?

Oklahoma's child support guideline schedule maxes out at $15,000 per month total combined AGI. For parents who make more than that, child support is computed using the maximum from the guideline schedule, plus "an additional amount determined by the court." (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 119 (2022).)

The trial court considers three factors in setting support: (1) the child's actual needs, (2) the parents' ability to pay, and (3) the child's prior standard of living. Base child support is still divided based on what percentage of the combined income each parent contributes.

Courts have used different methods to calculate support in high-income cases. Some review the specific needs of the child and assign child support on that basis. Others order support based on the top figure from the guideline chart and order direct payment of additional expenses such as private school or travel. Still others calculate additional support using income and support percentages from the top of the guideline chart.

It doesn't matter if the lower income parent receives an indirect benefit from child support, because the court considers only the benefit to the child. But judges can place limits on the support even the wealthiest parents pay—after all, the basic needs of a child don't increase based on a parent's income. Oklahoma courts have referred to this concept as the "three pony rule," saying, "no child needs three ponies, no matter that the parents might easily afford to provide them." (Smith v. Smith, 67 P.3d 351, 354 (Okla. Civ. App. 2002).)

How to Apply for Child Support in Oklahoma

Often, parents request child support as part of the process of filing for divorce in Oklahoma. However, the issue of child support also comes up in situations where the parents never married. Children are entitled to support regardless of their parents' marital status.

Outside of a divorce proceeding, parents can apply to Child Support Services (CSS) to establish a child support order.

Families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits or Medicaid benefits are automatically referred to OCSS and don't have to fill out an application.

How Is Child Support Paid and Received in Oklahoma?

Child support is paid through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Child Support Services (CSS). Many child support payments are made through income withholding. In other words, when you owe child support, your employer will take the money out of your paycheck and send it to the CSS. If income withholding isn't an option (for example, when a parent is self-employed), the state provides other payment methods, such as check, SMART e-Pay, and MoneyGram.

Parents receive child support payments on the Oklahoma MasterCard debit card. Alternatively, they can receive payments via direct deposit. All payments are electronic—the state doesn't issue paper child support checks.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support in Oklahoma

The court may modify or change a child support order whenever there is "a material change in circumstances." (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 118I (2022).) Courts have held that a material change of circumstance can be an increase or decrease in the obligor's income, an increase or decrease in obligee's income, or a change in the needs of the child. Ordinarily, a parent's increased or decreased expenses due to, for example, remarriage, are not by themselves grounds to decrease or increase child support. Child support is based on income, not expenses.

Child support can't be modified retroactively: A judge can increase or decrease only future payments. If you think child support should be modified, you'll need to ask a court to recalculate support and issue a new child support order.

Termination of Child Support in Oklahoma

When a child support order is issued in Oklahoma, the parent must pay until the child is age 20 or graduates from high school—whichever comes first. If the child support order was issued in another state, that state's law controls when the child support order will end.

Enforcement of Oklahoma Child Support Orders

Child support in Oklahoma is supposed to be collected by income assignment. An order or notice to withhold income for child support directs the obligor's employer to pay a portion of the obligor's earnings for child support. The withheld earnings are directed to a Centralized Support Registry operated in Oklahoma by CSS. The Registry records the support payment and forwards it to the obligee parent. The record of payments maintained by the Oklahoma's Centralized Support Registry becomes an official record of child support payments made.

Parents can agree to pay and receive child support using alternate arrangements instead of an income assignment. Specifically, an obligor spouse can pay support by cash, check, bank transfer, Zelle or even Venmo.

Court-ordered child support is owed until it is paid in full. All current court-ordered child support payments become judgments on the date they are due. A parent who refuses or fails to pay child support can face fines, court sanctions, and even the loss of a driver's or professional license. If you're struggling to collect past due support from your ex, contact Oklahoma Child Support Services.

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