Resources

Child support encounters of the employer kind

Gavel to Gavel

published in The Journal Record | June 10, 2021

Oklahoma child support is regulated by state statutes, enforced by courts and agencies, and often affects employer programs and payrolls. Child support includes parental payment as well as benefits provision. Employer health care coverage may encounter court orders to expand employee coverage to include offspring (at employee expense), effective even outside enrollment season. Employers then are restricted from disenrolling or eliminating ordered child health care absent specific circumstances. Employers also may receive a National Medical Support Notice (from a child support agency) directing enrollment of an employee’s child in health insurance, and carrying a fine of up to $200 per month, per child, for failure to comply. (Notably, fines should not be imposed where the parent/employee fails to contribute the required insurance premium.)

With respect to child support, courts calculate a parent’s obligatory payment amount using a formula that weighs parental gross income against the number of child overnights per parent. Based on this calculation, courts may order an immediate income assignment or garnish an employee’s periodic pay. The garnishment or income assignment may extend to 50% of disposable monthly earnings, if the employee supports a spouse or another child, or up to 60% of earnings where there is no spouse or other dependent child.

When an employer receives a notice of an income assignment along with a National Medical Support Notice, and the garnished pay is insufficient to pay all required amounts without exceeding the statutory 50% or 60% garnishment limitations, the payor/employer may allocate payment priority as follows: 1) current child and spousal support, 2) health insurance premiums, 3) past support arrearages, and 4) other child support obligations. (Alternatively, the garnished employee may allow garnishment of additional salary, beyond the limitations, to cover premiums.)

Oklahoma child support also pertains to adult disabled children whose child support is not controlled by the formula used for minors. Instead, courts consider the disabled adult child’s individual needs as well as available financial support. As a practical matter, courts will consider the extent of the adult child’s out-of-pocket medical or living expenses, his or her own employment income, the adult child’s entitlement to governmental assistance, and other income available to the child, including from a parental household where the child lives.

This article appeared in the June 10, 2021, issue of The Journal Record. It is reproduced with permission from the publisher. © The Journal Record Publishing Co.