In the event of a divorce or separation, each parent has a legal responsibility to provide financial support for their children. Child support laws can be confusing and extremely frustrating, depending on your situation. Determining child support in Missouri can be complicated. An experienced family law attorney can help to ensure the proper amount is paid and received by either party.
Why Are Child Support Payments Required?
The courts assume that the custodial parent, or the parent who cares for the child most of the time, already provides financial support. Therefore, the non-custodial parent is expected to provide supplemental support for the child, and the custodial parent receives payments on their behalf. Child support payments are for the child’s food, housing, clothing, transportation, and health care costs.
Child Support Laws in Missouri
When determining child support in the state of Missouri, courts largely base the amount to be paid on the gross monthly income of both parties, along with any other child-related expenses such as daycare and insurance. The court will also consider the custodial time assigned to each parent. Once an agreeable child custody arrangement is in place, the court can determine the amount of support.
In Missouri, child support is generally paid until the child reaches the age of eighteen. There are some exceptions. It can continue until the child graduates from high school, reaches the age of twenty-one, graduates from college, enters active military duty, becomes self-supporting, or marries. Children will disabilities may receive child support well into adulthood.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Missouri?
Missouri courts use Form No. 14 to establish a “presumed amount of child support.” A family court judge ultimately determines if the amount is reasonable based on each party’s circumstances. Judges have the power to adjust child support amounts either up or down. There are a variety of online child support calculators which can help you estimate the amount of support owed to you or the other parent. Other factors must be considered to get a more accurate amount.
Child support calculations depend on the following factors:
- The incomes of both parents.
- The number of children they have.
- The child’s current physical and mental well-being
- The child’s educational needs
- The number of overnight stays the child has with the non-custodial parent.
- Other costs paid by the non-custodial parent (typically health insurance and daycare costs)
While not officially written into Missouri law, these factors and others may influence the amount of child support paid and received.
Modifying a Child Support Order
A job loss does not automatically excuse you from making child support payments. If a court order is in place, you must continue to meet your obligation. Only a court can modify court-ordered child support. Child support may be modified only upon showing a substantial change in circumstances that make the original order unreasonable.
You should consult with an attorney immediately if there have been substantial changes in your employment or financial circumstances. If your unemployment is involuntary, you can begin to seek a modification of your child support payments. Notifying the court of your unemployment as quickly as possible is essential. A court can adjust the payments when the initially determined amount is deemed unjust due to changes in circumstances.
If you voluntarily quit without securing a new job, that voluntary departure disqualifies you from child support modification. Seeking modification of support payments can only occur if your unemployment results from a sudden and involuntary change.
Hire An Experienced Family Law Attorney
The attorneys at the Lecour Family Law can help you navigate complex and stressful family legal matters, including divorce, child custody, and child support. Call us today at (636) 685-0440 to schedule a consultation. We pride ourselves on offering family legal services tailored to your specific needs.
Lecour Family Law is located at 1270 Jungermann Road in St. Peters, Missouri. We serve clients throughout St. Charles, O’Fallon, Troy, Warrenton, and St. Louis.