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As with other laws, Missouri child support laws can be a little confusing, especially if this is your first venture into this territory. Missouri uses a Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations to determine how much the child support payments will be but this is only the starting point.
In fact, each case is considered individually so that a fair amount will be agreed upon, which means that the amount will be enough to care for the minor child’s basic needs and then some.
Missouri Child Support Laws – Just the Basics
In the state of Missouri, both parents are considered liable for providing for a minor child’s needs, which includes food, shelter, and clothing, to name a few. Child support details are covered in Missouri’s Revised Statutes Chapter 452 and this is enforced by Chapter 454. In addition to basic needs, child support should be enough to cover things such as transportation, healthcare, daycare, extracurricular expenses, and even education expenses.
The non-custodial parent is usually the one designated to pay child support to the custodial parent. This money should be paid monthly for each child until the child:
- Reaches the age of 18 (or 21 if he or she goes to college)
- Enters active military duty
If the child is disabled, it is possible that the parents will be expected to provide support for him or her for even longer periods of time. Again, each situation is different and this will therefore affect the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent pays.
MO Child Support Laws – Getting Started
Fortunately, getting started when you need child support is easy because the state has numerous resources that can help you. The state of Missouri even has a calculation worksheet that you can fill in to not only get you started but also help you determine how much child support you might be able to get. That worksheet can be found at https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=29740.
The things that the state looks at when considering child support payment amounts include the individual income of each parent, the parents’ combined income, whether or not the parent is already paying support for another child, and the number of children that the parents have custody of who live in their homes. Once the form is completed, the parent can start receiving child support payments from the non-custodial parent. However, once the agreement is finalized by a judge, which doesn’t happen right away, that amount may be increased or decreased according to what the courts decide.
Missouri State Child Support Laws – Paying and Receiving Child Support Payments
The state of Missouri makes both paying and receiving child support payments extremely easy. You can pay your child support by sending a check or money order to the Family Support Payment Center, making your payment online, or having that amount automatically deducted from your checking or savings account each month.
To access your child support payments, you can receive the money from the Family Support Payment Center or even directly from the non-custodial parent. The state can assist you in receiving your money or even in deciding which method will work best for you so once the arrangements are made official, it should be quite easy for you to get the money you need each month.
What Do They Consider When Calculating the Payments?
In addition to the parents’ income, the state of Missouri takes other things into consideration when determining the child support amount to be paid. These include:
- The number of children the couple has
- The number of overnight stays the children have with the non-custodial parent
- Other costs that are paid by the non-custodial parent, including things such as health insurance and daycare expenses
The form that you can fill out establishes a “presumed amount of child support” to start with, which can be altered later by a judge before it is finalized. Since income, the basic child support amount, and additional child-rearing costs are always considered when determining the amount of child support to be paid, each case is different. There are no hard-and-fast rules that apply to every case, only individualized general guidelines to get started until the court looks at your situation more thoroughly and determines a final dollar amount.
Modifications to the Child Support Payments
In many cases, the amount of child support agreed upon by the courts can be modified, including instances that involve lottery winnings, remarriage, job losses, etc. Under Sections 452.730 and 452.340, your child support may be able to be modified if any of the following change:
- The child’s financial needs
- The physical and emotional needs of the child
- The child’s educational needs
- The parents’ resources and the non-custodial parent’s needs
- The standard of living that the child would have enjoyed if the parents had stayed together
- The childcare expenses of each parent
- All physical and legal custody arrangements
If you feel that you need assistance that isn’t mentioned in any of the state’s resources or if the arrangements with the other parent are becoming complicated or unpleasant, you can also hire an attorney for additional help. There are numerous attorneys available who specialize in child custody issues and there are also legal aid organizations that are happy to help you find a lawyer who will work with you for free if that’s what you need.
In addition, parents receive a notice 90 days before the child’s 18th birthday to determine if the child still needs to receive this money. If the child meets certain requirements, the non-custodial parent can be released from making any further child support payments. Most often, the payments can only be legally stopped by the child turning 21 years of age or by an order called the Affidavit for Termination of Child Support.
The state of Missouri takes child support seriously because it considers the well-being of its children to be extremely important. Everything related to child support in Missouri is handled by the state’s Department of Social Services, which can be found online at https://dss.mo.gov. You can also get general information on child support in Missouri by contacting them at 800-859-7999.