Missouri Child Support Laws


Missouri Child Support Laws

Missouri Child Support Laws

Child support laws in Missouri are made to guarantee that children get the money they need for their upbringing and general well-being. These rules offer a framework for figuring out how much support a parent must give, accounting for many variables that impact the child’s financial requirements and the parent’s financial situation. This blog will walk you through the main features of Missouri’s child support legislation and assist you in realizing your obligations and rights.

1. Establishing Child Support

In Missouri, child support is generally established through the court system during divorce proceedings, legal separations, or paternity actions. The court can issue child support orders that specify the amount one parent must pay to the other to support their child.

Determination Factors

Income of Both Parents: The primary factor in determining child support is the income of both parents. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, and any other sources of income.

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Number of Children: The number of children requiring support influences the calculation.

Custody Arrangements: The amount of time each parent spends with the child affects support amounts, with the non-custodial parent typically paying support to the custodial parent.

Child’s Needs: The specific needs of the child, including health care, education, and extracurricular activities, are considered.

Parent’s Ability to Pay: The court takes into account each parent’s financial situation, including debts and other obligations.

2. Calculating Child Support

Missouri uses the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. This model estimates the amount parents would have spent on their child if they were living together and then divides that amount proportionally based on each parent’s income. The Missouri Form 14 is used to perform this calculation.

Components of Form 14

Gross Income: Both parents’ gross incomes are listed.

Adjustments: Adjustments are made for items such as other child support obligations, maintenance paid or received, and work-related childcare costs.

Presumed Child Support Amount: The Form 14 calculation results in a presumed child support amount, which the court can adjust based on the circumstances of the case.

3. Modifying Child Support

Circumstances change, and Missouri law allows for the modification of child support orders when there is a significant change in circumstances. This can include changes in income, employment status, or the needs of the child.

Process for Modification

Filing a Motion: A motion must be filed with the court to request a modification.

Review by Court: The court reviews the request and may hold a hearing to determine if the modification is justified.

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Evidence: Evidence such as income statements, employment records, and expense reports may be required to support the request.

4. Enforcing Child Support Orders

Missouri takes child support enforcement seriously. The Family Support Division (FSD) of the Missouri Department of Social Services is responsible for enforcing child support orders.

Enforcement Methods

Wage Withholding: Automatically deducting child support payments from the paying parent’s wages.

Tax Refund Interception: Intercepting federal and state tax refunds to cover unpaid support.

License Suspension: Suspending driver’s, professional, and recreational licenses for non-payment.

Contempt of Court: Parents who fail to pay can be held in contempt of court, which may result in fines or imprisonment.

Missouri’s child support laws are designed to ensure that children receive the financial support they need from both parents. Understanding these laws can help you navigate the process whether you are establishing, modifying, or enforcing child support. If you are involved in a child support case, it’s often beneficial to consult with a family law attorney who can provide guidance specific to your situation.

By staying informed and proactive, you can help ensure that your child receives the support they need for a healthy and stable upbringing.

Frequently Asked Questions About Missouri Child Support Laws

1. What is child support?

Child support is a financial obligation that a non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent to help cover the costs of raising their child. This includes expenses such as housing, food, clothing, education, and medical care.

2. How is child support calculated in Missouri?

Child support in Missouri is calculated using the Income Shares Model. This model estimates the total amount parents would have spent on their child if they were living together and divides that amount based on each parent’s income. The Missouri Form 14 is used to perform this calculation.

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3. Can child support be modified?

Yes, child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a change in income, employment status, or the needs of the child. To request a modification, a motion must be filed with the court.

4. What if the non-custodial parent refuses to pay child support?

Missouri’s Family Support Division (FSD) has several enforcement methods, including wage withholding, intercepting tax refunds, suspending licenses, and holding the non-paying parent in contempt of court, which can result in fines or imprisonment.

5. What is Form 14?

Form 14 is the worksheet used in Missouri to calculate the presumed amount of child support. It considers both parents’ gross incomes, adjustments for other obligations, and work-related child care costs to arrive at a support amount.

6. How long does child support last?

Child support generally continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, but not beyond the child’s 21st birthday. Support can extend if the child is physically or mentally incapacitated and unable to support themselves.

7. Does child support cover college expenses?

Missouri law does not automatically require child support to cover college expenses unless specifically included in the support order. Parents can agree to include these expenses in their support agreement.

8. Can I get child support if we were never married?

Yes, child support can be established even if the parents were never married. Paternity must be established first, either through voluntary acknowledgment or court proceedings.

9. How do I establish paternity?

Paternity can be established by signing an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity or through a court order after genetic testing. Establishing paternity is necessary for legal child support obligations.


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