Modification of Child Support Q & A
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
I need to understand the terms that will be used to explain the Child Support Modification process.
Modification: An order changing an existing child support court order.
Review: The process in which the current child support current child support order is looked at along with the changes in income or circumstances, to see if modification is needed. This can be accomplished through OK DHS Child Support Services in some cases or with a private attorney in front of a judge.
Pro Se or Self-Represented Litigant: Refers to the person who represents him or herself in a court action without an attorney.
Child Support Guidelines: The calculation of monthly child support, which is set out in state law. Child Support Services (OK DHS CSS) can only address child support, medical support, child care, and past-due balances on child support.
How are child support orders modified?
Using a private lawyer:
You can hire a private attorney to take your case in front of a judge and ask that current child support be changed. You will probably have to give the lawayer money up front to start the case and you will probably have to pay court filing fees. It is usually much faster to use a private attorney for this proces.
Using your own lawyer also allows you to address other issues such as custody, visitation, or tax exemptions.
Doing it yourself:
You can write up court papers yourself and file them with the court clerk, asking that the judge set a hearing to decide if a modification of child support will be ordered. You should always talk to a lawyer and have your paperwork reviewed before you do this. You must understand the law that will be applied to your case and be able to give the judge reasons and present evidence that supports your request to change the child support order.
You can do it yourself through a Pro Se Modifiation process. You can request a Pro Se Modification packet by calling the OK DHS CSS CARE Call Center at 1-800-522-2922.
Using OK DHS Child Support Services:
You must send a written request to the OK DHS Child Support Services office that has your case. If you do not have a child support case with OK DHS CSS or you are unsure of where to send your request, you can obtain that information by calling the Child Support CARE (Customer Assistance Response Effort) Call Center at 1-800-522-2922. If you are opening a new case with OK DHS CSS, please note that you are requesting all child support services not just a modification of the child support order. Upon receipt of a request, the child support office will review the order and determine if it qualifies to modify. Using DHS usually takes a lot longer than using a private lawyer or going to court yourself.
What qualifies my child support order to be modified?
- If your order does not contain an order for medical support;
- If your order that has not been calculated according to Child Support Guidelines;
- If there will be a 10 percent change in the amount of support according to child support guidelines; or,
- If there is a significant change of circumstances.
What is a significant change of circumstance?
- The child is no longer entitled to child support;
- Verified permanent medical disability of either parent;
- Court ordered custody change;
- Change in daycare or medical insurance; or,
- Significant change in income in either parent's income
When will my Child Support order be increased or decreased?
Not all modifications produce an increase in child support. In fact, the amount may be decreased or if you are the one asking for a decrease, the amount may be increased.
Either you, your lawyer or OK DHS CSS will calculate child support by using the Child Support Guidelines.
Using OK DHS CSS, the review and modification process is not always a fast process. It can take up to 180 days to complete. This time frame can become longer if an Oklahoma court cannot modify your order and OK DHS CSS has to request a child support office in another state to assist in the process.
Will I need an attorney?
You are not required to have a lawyer either filing the case in court or using OK DHS CSS.
If you do use OK DHS CSS, you must remember that they do not represent you, they represent the State of Oklahoma.
If you hire a lawyer when you use OK DHS CSS, you must tell them when you call the CARE Call Center office at 1-800-522-2922 to start the process or by the calling the local office through which you have requested services.
Need more information?
Only a judge can modify a child support order.
The process can seem overwhelming, but you need to understand what information you need to have, how long the process will take and the best alternative for your situation.
For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Human Services here.