How to Calculate the Cost of Child Support

by Ball Morse Lowe on November 27, 2018

How to Calculate the Cost of Child Support

Each state has its own statutory guidelines for determining monthly child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent, based on both parents’ respective incomes and expenses. Though guidelines may vary by state, factors like the child’s health insurance, daycare costs and special needs are considered as well as their standard of living before the divorce or separation. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss how to calculate the cost of child support and shedding light on the filing process in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma courts require each parent to complete a financial statement. This provides a clear picture of each parent’s financial situation. In this statement, each must detail his or her monthly income and certain expenses related to the child.

(Free checklist: 15 Child Custody Factors to Discuss With Your Spouse Before a Divorce)

The 4 Models for Calculating Child Support

As we mentioned, child support may vary state-to-state. But, most courts calculate it using one of four models: income shares, percentage of income, the Melson formula or court discretion.

1. Income Shares Model

In the income shares model, the court bases child support on both parent’s income as well as the number of children.

2. Percentage of Income Model

In the percentage of income model, the court bases child support on a specific percentage of the non-custodial parent’s gross or net income as well as the number of children the parent supports. This percentage typically comes in two forms: flat income (stays the same as the income fluctuates) and varying income (changes as the income fluctuates).

3. Melson Formula

In the Melson formula, the court bases child support on a defined set of factors such as the child’s needs and standard of living adjustment (SOLA).

  • - Is a variation on the income shares model, allows more money for child support as one or both parents increase their income.
  • - Is more complex compared to income and percentage models.

4. Court Discretion

In this scenario, the court has the power to deviate from the state’s standard model and calculate child support based on other factors (in addition to Melson’s) such as the ability of the non-custodial parent to pay, the needs and income of the custodial parent as well as the amount of time the child spends with the paying parent.

Additionally, the court may also consider whether a paying parent provides child support for two or more families, separation or divorce agreements between parents and resources for the child like a trust or inheritance.

How to Calculate Child Support in Oklahoma

To calculate child support in Oklahoma, you’ll need to follow the income model. In order to do this, you’ll need to calculate the paying parent’s average gross monthly income.

Navigating Gross Income

If you get paid a fixed amount, take the gross amount paid (without deducting taxes, social security or other expenses) and multiply it by 52 if you’re paid weekly, by 12 if you’re paid monthly, by 24 if you’re paid twice per month, or by 26 if you’re paid every two weeks. 

What to Do and What You’ll Need for the Income Model

  1. Establish which parent is the obligor
  2. Number of children
  3. Each party’s monthly gross income
  4. Number of overnights each parent has physical responsibility for children
  5. Monthly cost of work and school-related child care paid by either party
  6. Health insurance premiums being paid by either party for the child

 Feeling lost? Click here to access the Oklahoma Department of Human Service’s child support calculator.


How Custody Arrangements Affect Child Support

When a parent is awarded sole legal or designated as the primary physical custodian, the other parent is typically required to fulfill their child support obligation by making payments to the custodial parent. However, if you’re awarded joint physical custody and equal or close to equal parenting time with the child then the child support obligations are based on how much each parent earns and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent.


Next Steps: Child Custody and Parenting Plans

If you’re unmarried or getting divorced, you’ll need to address custody as well as develop a parenting plan. Determining who makes decisions on behalf of the child, where they’ll live and go to school, and when they’ll see each parent can be emotional – making it difficult reaching an agreement. 

If you can’t seem to come to an agreement or simply need assistance navigating the process of custody and child support, legal mediation is a great resource to help you work through those important decisions. For more information about child support or to speak with one of our trusted attorneys, we encourage you to reach out to us at (405) 701-6376.


Need Help Starting the Conversation?

In this free checklist, we cover the 15 most common child custody factors to discuss with your partner. Click below to access your copy of the guide now.

15 Child Custody Factors To Hash Out Before A Divorce

Topics: Child Custody, Divorce with Children