For divorcing fathers, the prospect of child support obligations frequently becomes a source of constant worry and trepidation. From my perspective, those needless worries arise from two sources: these good men do not know how the child support system works, and they do not understand how to work within that system.
If you are a loving, caring Tulsa father worried that the cards are stacked against you in family court just because you are a man, you are not alone. Men routinely walk into Oklahoma family courts filled with trepidation, fearing they will be sidelined as the second-place parent. The scenario so many men fear – often with good cause – has the mother getting the kids and dad on the sidelines, paying child support.
A man who tries to take on his children’s mother and her attorney alone often faces an unfortunate reality: he simply lacks the expertise in Oklahoma child support law to effectively advocate for his own interests in family court. As a result, he might end up paying more in child support and have less parenting time. My goal as a Tulsa child support attorney for men is to get fathers as much actual involvement with their children as they want and the court will allow.
Within the framework of a balanced child custody plan, I work to achieve a balanced child support calculation. In some cases, the financial obligation falls on the mother. In other cases, balanced parenting time under a joint custody order leaves neither parent with child support obligations. And yes, many times, fathers shoulder more of the financial burden for a child growing up in two homes. Our goal in those circumstances is to size the obligation so it fits his ability to pay.
Child Support Determinations
Oklahoma’s child support guidelines set out how much, if any, each parent will likely be ordered to pay in child support. The guidelines are gender-neutral. That means they do not consider whether a parent is the mother or the father. They address who will be the child support “obligee” receiving payments and who will be the “obligor” making payments. Either parent could be the one paying or getting paid.
The Oklahoma child support formula considers each parents’ income, contribution to health insurance costs, out-of-pocket medical costs, child-care costs, marital debts, child or spousal support obligations from prior cases, some sources of public assistance they might receive and even travel costs anticipated for visitation.
Application of the child support guidelines determines a presumptive monthly child support payment. However, a judge can deviate from the guidelines when the court finds that doing so is in the best interests of the child.
Factors in family life that affect how much child support would be owed under the standard guidelines tend to change with time. That is why a periodic review of your finances and those of the children’s mother is important. A review may show that you have overpaid. When that time arrives, we can return to court with a motion to modify child support.
Child Support Modifications
Another fear men share with me is that they might eventually lose their good paying job and not be able to maintain child support obligations that were calculated while they were earning more income. Some have told me they even fear getting jailed for child support debts because of losing their job. I get that. As a matter of fact, Oklahoma lawmakers get it, too.
Oklahoma law allows the parents to seek a modification of child support obligations when circumstances change substantially. Changed circumstances may involve several factors including:
• Changing needs of the children,
• Changes in either parent’s income,
• Changes in child care expenses,
• Changes in healthcare expenses,
• One of the children ages out of child support requirements.
There are two points which men must understand when moving to modify their child support obligations. The first is that, if the judge grants the motion, the modification is effective as of the date in which the father filed the motion to modify child support.
Secondly, there is no retroactive modification. A modification, if approved, can go back to the day we filed, but not as far back as when the modification might have first been justified. That means the sooner we file a credible motion for a modification, the sooner you – and your children – may realize the benefits.
Child Support Collections
One thing that has surprised me as a child support attorney for men is how often fathers are willing to let a mother avoid her child support obligations. Unless a state agency gets involved by way of providing public assistance to a child, it is each parent’s decision how aggressively to enforce court ordered support obligations.
Fathers sometimes have good reasons to let a mom off the hook for child support. Other times, they have good reasons to demand that mom meets her obligations. One reason could be that the children benefit from the money. If they don’t need it now, it can be saved for college funds or emergency expenses. Another reason is it can benefit children to have both parents involved financially. The financial obligation may help focus a parent’s attention on other parental responsibilities.
Whatever the reason, if a court has ordered child support and the other parent is not paying, a child support collections attorney can help. We can pursue a contempt citation, ask that the delinquent parent’s bank account be attached, have their wages garnished or even investigate the potential for enforcement under criminal law.
If you are a dad who is not receiving the child support payments to which your child is entitled, contact me. If you think you cannot afford an attorney because you are not getting any support from their other parent but there is a good chance we can collect for you, call me anyway. Your children deserve the support and I can sometimes help in those situations.
Child Support Criminal Defense
Failure to pay court ordered child support in Oklahoma can be a criminal offense. Moreover, a judge could find you in contempt of court for failing to abide by a court order. A judge may sentence you to incarceration for being in contempt of court or order you to stand trial for criminal non-support. A court could impose incarceration of up to four years in prison.
When potential criminal sanctions are in play, you need legal help fast. Contact me to learn more about criminal defense options, or better, about how to avoid letting your child support problems go that far.
How to Get Child Support Help
Wherever a man stands in his journey through family court, whether he is:
- anticipating initial child support obligations,
- looking to modify a child support order,
- trying to collect money owed, or
- so far behind the courts are hinting at criminal charges,
the precision legal advice of a skilled Tulsa child support attorney for men can provide his best chance of reaching an outcome that best serves his children’s needs.
If you are a father who is in the midst of a divorce involving children, you are a father who is unwed, or you a father who has an existing child support order that is unfair and overly burdensome, a Tulsa fathers rights attorney can help you.
Consult a Tulsa Child Support Attorney for Men
When you contact me about your child support matter my staff and I will explore your goals and objectives in strict confidence, then examine your case to propose the best course of action. Together, we can devise a strategy to achieve that goal. Contact my office today at (918) 986-7724 to schedule a confidential consultation.