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Child Support Guidelines and Scenarios for Income

Legal Authorities:

45 C.F.R. § 302.56
43 O.S. §118B and 119
40 O.S. § 197.1 et seq.

The standard method for setting child support obligations is based on the income of the parents and other factors determined by state law.
A fair standard to determine the amount of child support that is set.
The Family Support Act of 1988 requires states to use guidelines to determine the amount of support for each family, unless they are rebutted by a written finding that applying the guidelines would be inappropriate to the case.

Child Support Guidelines

The determination of child support amounts must not be arbitrary. Federal regulation (45 C.F.R. § 302.56) requires every state to have a set of guidelines whenever child support amounts are calculated, and an Oklahoma statute (43 O.S. §118 and 119) contains the set of guidelines used in this state. The term, guidelines calculation refers to a calculation of child support based on the Oklahoma statute. Child Support Services will perform guidelines calculations for the Paternity and Establishment process, and the modification process. These calculations are used to determine an appropriate child support amount. The Oklahoma guidelines formula uses the gross incomes of both the biological person (BP) and the noncustodial parents (NCP). Therefore, prior to calculating the child support obligation, it is essential that you obtain complete and accurate information concerning the income and assets of both the BP and the NCP.

Computing Wages, Salary, and Other Income

The guidelines direct the court to use the most equitable of three methods listed in 43 O.S. §118B(C). The first method uses all current earned and passive monthly income. The second method uses the average gross income for the time actually employed during the previous year. The third method uses gross monthly income that has been imputed.

Method 1: All current earned and passive monthly income.

This method uses the actual monthly income reflected on pay stubs, W‐2s, tax returns, OESC, or other available sources. You will also use this method when your customer is on TANF. If you are unable to obtain income information from the party receiving TANF, use the income listed on their benefits case. Using actual income is the preferred method to use when determining income.

Example 1: An individual earns $7.50 an hour working 50 hours per week. His actual monthly income is $1,625.00. The calculation is $7.50 multiplied by 50 to obtain a weekly amount of $375.00. Next, multiply the weekly amount by the number of weeks in a year ($375 x 52) to obtain a yearly amount of $19,500.00. The yearly amount is then divided by twelve ($19,500.00 / 12) to obtain a monthly support amount of $1,625.00.
Result 1: The gross monthly income in this example is $1,625.00 (use actual income).
Example 2: An individual has military retired pay of $1,200.00 per month and works at the area Vo‐Tech School 30 hours per week making $20.00 per hour for 46 weeks per year. The average monthly income from the Vo‐Tech is $2,300.00 (The calculation is (30 x 20) x 46/12).
Result 2: The gross monthly income is $1,200.00 retired pay and $2,300.00 from Vo‐Tech for a total average monthly income of $1,200.00 + $2,300 = $3,500.00.
Example 3: An individual earns $7.40 per hour at Joe’s Car Wash working 35 hours a week. He also receives an oil royalty check (passive income) periodically and has received $1,800.00 in oil royalties during the past 12 months averaging out to $150.00 per month.
Result 3: The gross monthly income is $1,122.33 from Joe’s Car Wash and $150.00 in royalties, for a total gross monthly income of $1,272.33. The calculation is ([$7.40 x 35 x 52]/12) + ($1,800.00/12) = $1,272.33.

Method 2: Average income for previous year.

Use this method when the individual is self‐employed, works a seasonal job, or has income from sources other than wages or salary. You may also use this method in other situations including employment inconsistencies, recent loss of job, or proof of earning capacity. The individual must provide documentation such as income tax returns and necessary schedules, W‐2s, and 1099s. To determine monthly income, you combine the total income for the previous year and divide by twelve.

Example 1: An individual had earned income of $14,000.00 in 2020 working 11 months; This income was from self‐employment at the same or similar job, and the individual continues to be self‐employed at the same type of job.
Result. You add up the income for the last year and divide by twelve ($14,000/12 months = $1,166.67). Gross monthly income is $1,166.67.

Method 3: Imputing Income

The court may use the gross monthly income for either parent based on the amount a person with comparable education, training and experience could reasonably expect to earn. OCSS staff can use the current Oklahoma Wage Report [italics for publication title] produced by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Economic Research Analysis Division for this determination. Another great resource is the Bureau of Labor Statistics website where you can view wages earned in a particular field by state, and even by geographic region within the state.

OCSS may also use testimony to establish prior earning history. This generally applies in situations in which a person has a degree or specialized training in a particular field and is capable of making a higher wage but is either unemployed or underemployed.

You will also use this method when the individual is unemployed. If there is no evidence of work history and education, it is appropriate to impute that party using minimum wage at 25 hours per week. If there is evidence of previous work history or education, but the party is currently unemployed, it might be appropriate to impute at minimum wage with more than 25, but less than 40, hours per week.

Example 1: An individual lives in northeast Oklahoma. She is a registered nurse but is currently unemployed to stay home and take care of her children. Her current husband provides for the family. Aside from working, he has six rental properties.
Result 1: Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Registered Nurse in northeast Oklahoma makes an average of $67,680 annually. Divide that by 12 to get a monthly total of $5,655. (67,860/12 – $5,655)
Example 2: An individual appears to be unemployed and no work history can be found.
Result 2: Impute minimum wage at 25 hours a week for a total of $785.42 monthly, ($7.25 X 25)52/12 = $785.42.

Other Income Examples

In determining gross income from wages or salary, you use one of the three methods listed above. Overtime, tips, bonuses, and commissions should be averaged and included in employment income.

Oklahoma Minimum Wage Act – 40 O.S. § 197.1 et seq.

  • $5.15 per hour prior to July 24, 2007 – At this rate, an individual would have earned $892.67 per month. For time periods in which both custodians’ incomes are calculated at this rate, child support is $163.50 per month.
  • $5.85 per hour prior to July 24, 2008 – At this rate, an individual would have earned $1014.00 per month. For time periods in which both custodians’ incomes are calculated at this rate, child support is $183.00 per month.
  • $6.55 per hour prior to July 24, 2009 – At this rate, an individual earns $1135.33 per month. For time periods in which both custodians’ incomes are calculated at this rate, child support is $203.00 per month.
  • $7.25 per hour Effective July 24, 2009 – At this rate, an individual earns $1256.66 per month. For time periods in which both custodians’ incomes are calculated at this rate, child support is $222.50 per month.

Following our agency’s True North Plan for Paternity, Order Establishment, and Modifications, CSS should be focused on right sizing and use actual income data rather than using imputed income when it is available.

See also CSQuest article Right–Sizing Orders [CE Standardized Business Process & User Guide] as well as articles in Paternity & Establishment>Guidelines and Legal>Child Support Guidelines.

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