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Legal Overview of Modification Process

This article is a brief overview for modifying child support orders, basis for modification, and time limitations.

  1. Modifying Child Support Orders is a CSS Service. CSS reviews and adjusts child support orders through the modification process as one of its program functions required by the federal government per 45 CFR § 303.8 and 42 USC § 666.
    • Oklahoma law, per 43 OS § 112, requires notification to CSS if a party is receiving benefits under the TANF program, as that party has assigned their child support rights to CSS, or if a party is receiving medical support or any CSS child support services.

    Custodial persons who are not under the TANF program but are receiving CSS’s services are required to cooperate with CSS, which includes providing notification of a modification action and having all child support payments paid through Oklahoma’s Centralized Support Registry per OAC 340:25-5-118 and 340:25-5-350.3.

    • Failure to cooperate with CSS will result in CSS closing that obligee’s CSS case per OAC 340:25-5-118.
    • Parties may use the standard modification forms to modify a child support order in district court per 43 OS § 118I.
    • If the parent does not have an open case with CSS, the parent must apply for CSS services and complete a written request for review of the child support order per OAC 340:25-5-118.
  2. Basis for Modification. Oklahoma law, per 43 OS § 112, allows modification of child support orders whenever circumstances render the change proper either before or after final judgment in the action. Oklahoma’s child support guidelines law specifically outlines examples of when an order may be modified upon a material change in circumstances.  Per 43 OS § 118I, these include but are not limited to:
    1. an increase or decrease in income,
    2. changes in actual child care expenses
    3. changes in medical or dental insurance, or
    4. when one of the children reaches the age of majority or otherwise ceases to be entitled to child support per 43 OS § 112.

    Per 56 OS § 237 and OAC 340:25-5-198.1, an order may also be modified when the evidence in the case justifies a modification, whether or not there has been a chance of circumstances.

    Oklahoma law prohibits retroactive modification of a periodic child support payment or waiving payment of all or a portion of the past due child support amount except by mutual agreement of the obligor and obligee, or by CSS for a TANF obligee.

    The purpose of the review process per OAC 340:25-5-198.1 is to determine if a child support order should be modified to comply with the Oklahoma child support guidelines in 43 OS 118 through 118I.

    • CSS notifies parties of the right to request a review of the child support order at least once every three years after a child support order is established, reviewed, or modified.
    • When CSS receives a request to review a child support order, CSS determines the state with the legal authority under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to modify the order.
    • If another state has the legal authority to modify the order, CSS obtains the information necessary for the review and transmits the documents to the other state.
  3. Time Limitations.CSS is required to complete the review and modification process within 180 days after a request is received or the non-requesting party is located, whichever is later.CSS reviews child support orders on the written request of either party or, per 56 OS § 237, on its own initiative for any reason, without a request.CSS reviews the child support order to determine if it complies with the Oklahoma Child Support Guidelines statute.