Oklahoma Alimony Garnishment Rules

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Oklahoma Alimony Garnishment Rules

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

When a married couple decides to get a divorce, a court may order one party to pay alimony to the other party. Alimony is a type of spousal support that requires the supporting spouse (the spouse who makes more money) to make periodic payments to the dependent spouse as determined by the court. Court-ordered alimony payments are not optional and can be enforced through a garnishment of wages.

Person in suit with clipboard across from couple

Alimony in Oklahoma

Alimony is not meant to be punitive but rather rehabilitative in that it ensures the dependent spouse can enjoy the same standard of living as they did prior to the divorce. While there is no concrete formula to determine how much alimony to award, a court considers many factors such as earning capacity, support networks, lifestyle, and the allocation of marital assets.

While alimony payments are not optional, they also are not paid indefinitely. Important factors that are taken into consideration for when alimony wouldn't be granted are if the marriage was short, such as less than two to three years, or if both parties are employed and self-sufficient.

Garnishment in Oklahoma

Garnishment is when an individual's wages, bank accounts, or other assets are seized in order to pay a creditor for an outstanding debt. In Oklahoma, there are two types of garnishment. Continuing garnishment is when money is seized on an ongoing nature from ongoing income, such as a paycheck. Wage garnishment falls into this category. If a court orders an individual's wages to be garnished, the employer is responsible for withholding wages until the debt is satisfied. The second type of garnishment is a non-continuing garnishment, which is a single-instance seizure of money, typically taken from an individual's bank account.

Oklahoma abides by federal law, which regulates how much income can be garnished from an employee. The general rule restricts wage garnishment to a maximum of 25 percent of an individual's disposable wages—the amount of income after required taxes are withheld—or 30 times the federal minimum wage amount, whichever is less. Social Security benefits are generally exempt from garnishment.

Alimony Garnishments in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, the two exceptions to the general garnishment rule are alimony and child support payments. Alimony is not subject to the 25 percent maximum amount. Instead, the dependent former spouse may garnish up to 60 percent of the supporting former spouse's wages depending on whether that former spouse is supporting another family or not.

Alimony payments can also be garnished from Social Security benefits if a former spouse owes unpaid alimony. If the supporting former spouse is more than three months behind on alimony payments, they may be subject to an additional garnishment of five percent.

Other Considerations

If the supporting former spouse changes employers or bank accounts, another court order will be required before the employer or bank can withhold income for alimony.

If a dependent former spouse either remarries or has a significant change in income, they may lose their right to receive alimony payments. Either of the former spouses can return to court at any time to request modification or termination of the alimony agreement based on these factors.

In general, public policy supports the notion that if a couple gets divorced, the spouse who earns more money should pay the dependent spouse alimony based on fairness and equity. Both parties dealing with a divorce in Oklahoma might want to call on the expertise of an attorney in order to better understand and determine spousal support in their case and whether or not it needs to be garnished.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.