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  • Apr 3rd, 2024

    A Comprehensive Guide to Missouri’s Child Support Laws

    Child Support, Family Law, Modification

    Jump to a Specific Child Support Section

    Missouri child support laws aim to meet the child’s needs by mandating monthly payments from one parent to another, adhering to state guidelines where the child’s well-being is the focus. These payments ensure the necessities such as food, housing, and clothing are met, yet do not cover costs like schooling and extracurricular activities.

    The process to establish paternity and calculate Missouri child support payments in MO involves the Form 14, taking into account various factors including incomes of both parents, health insurance, and childcare costs, ensuring fairness and sufficiency of the support provided.

    Understanding Child Support in Missouri

    In Missouri, understanding child support is crucial for both custodial and non-custodial parents. Here’s a breakdown of key aspects:

    Responsibility and Calculation of Child Support:

    • Child support is a shared responsibility, but typically, the non-custodial parent makes the payments.
    • Payments are calculated based on the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations, considering both parents’ gross income.
    • The Form No. 14 Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet is used to determine payment amounts.

    Coverage and Duration of Child Support Payments:

    • Child support covers essential expenses including food, housing, clothing, transportation, and health care.
    • It may also cover additional costs like daycare, extracurricular activities, and private school fees.
    • Payments generally continue until the child reaches 18, with certain exceptions extending this period.

    Support Services:

    • The Missouri Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, offers child support services.
    • Parents can apply for these services by visiting their local CSE office or calling the information line.
    • These points emphasize the importance of establishing paternity, understanding how payments are calculated, and recognizing what expenses are covered under Missouri child support laws.

    How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Missouri

    When calculating child support payments in Missouri, several factors come into play to ensure fairness and adequacy in supporting the child’s needs. Here’s a breakdown of these factors:

    Key Factors Influencing Child Support Calculations:

    • Total Number of Children.
    • Parents’ Combined Monthly Gross Income and each parent’s adjusted monthly income.
    • Additional Costs such as work-related childcare expenses, health insurance costs, and other expenses like extracurricular activities and private school tuition.

    Circumstances that May Cause Deviation:

    The court may adjust the standard calculation amount based on:

    • The child’s physical and mental well-being.
    • Educational needs of the child.
    • An estimate of the standard of living the child would have experienced if the parents lived together.
    • The financial needs and resources of both the child and the parents.

    Out-of-Court Agreements and Overnight Adjustments:

    • Parents may opt for a mutual support agreement outside of court proceedings.
    • The calculation considers the number of overnights the non-custodial parent has, with deductions in support obligation for 36 to 183 overnights annually.
    • Significant income disparities between parents or one parent covering the majority of child-rearing costs not included in the calculation may influence the judge’s decision on adjustments.
    • These components ensure that child support payments in Missouri are tailored to meet the unique needs of each family, focusing on the child’s well-being while considering the financial capabilities and responsibilities of both parents.

    How much of my paycheck can be taken for child support in Missouri?

    The amount of your disposable earnings that can be garnished for unpaid child support in Missouri varies based on your responsibilities. If you are supporting a spouse or another child not involved in the order, up to 50% of your earnings can be garnished. If you are not supporting another spouse or child, up to 60% of your earnings may be taken for child support.

    The primary goal of Missouri’s Child Support Laws is to do what is best for the child. Having an experienced Family Law attorney will help you navigate the process.

    How are Child Support Orders Enforced in Missouri?

    Missouri’s approach to enforcing child support orders emphasizes the well-being of the child while ensuring that the legal obligations of the non-custodial parent are met. Here are the steps and measures taken to enforce child support orders effectively:

    Immediate Actions for Non-Payment:

    Upon failure to make a child support payment equivalent to one month’s obligation, the custodial parent can initiate enforcement actions by filing motions in family court or contacting the Family Support Division (FSD).

    Enforcement Mechanisms:

    • Income Withholding: Employers may withhold child support directly from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck.
    • License Suspension: The FSD can suspend driving, professional, and recreational licenses for non-payment.
    • Tax Refund Interception: State and federal tax refunds can be intercepted to cover past-due child support.
    • Property Liens: Liens can be placed on vehicles, homes, and other property of the non-custodial parent.
    • Credit Reporting: Past-due child support can be reported to credit bureaus, impacting credit scores.

    Legal Consequences of Child Support Neglect:

    • Criminal Charges: In severe cases, non-payment can lead to criminal nonsupport charges, emphasizing the seriousness of the obligation.
    • Passport Denial: Owing more than $2,500 in child support can result in passport denial, revocation, or limitation.

    In Missouri, child support typically continues until the child turns eighteen. However, there are exceptions where support may extend: if the child is still in high school, until they turn twenty-one, if they graduate from college or if they are in college but not full-time, if they enter active military duty, become self-supporting, or get married.

    Modifying Child Support Orders in Missouri

    To request a modification of your child support order in Missouri, follow these steps:

    Initiating the Request to Modify Your Child Support:

    Mail your written request to the

    Family Support Division
    P.O. Box 6790
    Jefferson City, MO
    65102-6790

    or fax it to 573-635-7545

    If less than 3 years have passed since the order was started, reviewed, or modified, a review will only occur under special circumstances. You can view this document for more information.

    Missouri’s Child Support Modification Review Process

    Every 3 years, you’re eligible to request a review of your child support order to potentially change the amount owed. Begin by completing a Financial and Informational Statement. Should there be disagreement with the proposed change, a 30-day window is available to request an administrative hearing.

    The Family Support Division will forward the proposed modification for review by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. A court trial may ensue if the motion isn’t approved Significant, ongoing changes in circumstances, such as income adjustments, custody changes, or the child’s evolving needs, can justify a modification request.

    Assistance from Child Support Program:

    The Missouri Child Support Program offers comprehensive services including locating parents, establishing paternity, and enforcing child support and medical support orders. These measures underscore Missouri’s commitment to ensuring children receive the necessary financial support while providing a range of enforcement options to address non-payment issues.

    You can click this link to apply for assistance.

    When Does Child Support End in Missouri?

    In Missouri, the termination of child support is contingent upon specific conditions that reflect the child’s age, educational status, and capacity for independence. Understanding these conditions is crucial for both the paying and receiving parent:

    Age and Educational Milestones:

    • General Rule: Child support ends when the child turns 18, barring special circumstances.
    • Secondary Education: If the child is still in high school at 18, support continues until graduation.
    • Higher Education/Vocational Training: Support can extend until the child turns 21 or completes their program, provided they enroll by October 1 post-high school graduation and maintain sufficient academic progress.

    Emancipation and Legal Termination:

    • Emancipation Criteria: Marriage, military service, financial independence with parental consent, or reaching 18 and not pursuing higher education leads to emancipation.
    • Legal Process: To legally end child support, a sworn affidavit detailing the emancipation must be filed with the court or Family Support Division. If parents agree, a joint statement can expedite the process.

    You can find the Affidavit for Termination of Child Support form here.

    Child Support Disputes and Court Proceedings:

    If the receiving parent contests the termination, they must file a counter-affidavit within 30 days, potentially leading to a court hearing. Absence of response from the receiving parent may result in the court favoring termination. These guidelines ensure that child support obligations in Missouri are aligned with the child’s developmental stage and needs, providing a framework for adjustments as circumstances change.

    Paying an attorney is an expense nobody is excited to pay, but hiring an experienced Family Lawyer can have a significant impact on your finances in the future.

    Get Help from a Child Support Lawyer

    Navigating the complexities of Missouri child support laws often necessitates the expertise of a child support lawyer. Here are key considerations when seeking legal assistance:

    Finding a Child Support Lawyer:

    Statewide and Local Bar Associations: For a comprehensive list of qualified attorneys, consult the Missouri Bar or local bar associations in St. Louis, Jefferson City, Columbia, Kansas City, and Springfield.

    Legal Aid Services: Low-income families can seek assistance from organizations like Mid-Missouri Legal Services, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, and Legal Services of Southern Missouri.

    These steps will guide you in selecting a child support lawyer who can navigate Missouri’s child support laws effectively, ensuring your child’s needs are met.

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