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How Does Child Support Work in Missouri

How Does Child Support Work in Missouri?

Child support is a critical aspect of divorce or separation cases involving children. It ensures that both parents contribute financially to the upbringing and well-being of their children. In Missouri, child support laws are in place to ensure that children’s needs are met, regardless of the parents’ relationship status. This article will explore how child support works in Missouri, including the calculation process, enforcement methods, and frequently asked questions.

Calculation of Child Support:

In Missouri, child support is determined using the “Income Shares Model.” This model considers the income of both parents and the number of children involved. The court utilizes the Missouri Child Support Guidelines to calculate child support obligations, which take into account various factors such as the parents’ gross income, child-related expenses, and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

The calculation begins by determining each parent’s gross income, which includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other sources of income. The court may also consider potential income, such as if a parent is unemployed or underemployed voluntarily.

Next, the court estimates the amount of money required to raise the child by considering factors such as housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and childcare expenses. This estimation is based on economic tables and the child’s age.

Once these figures are determined, the court calculates the proportionate share of each parent’s contribution based on their income. For example, if the total estimated child-rearing expenses are $1,000, and one parent’s income is $60,000 while the other parent’s income is $40,000, the proportions would be 60% and 40% respectively.

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Enforcement of Child Support:

When child support payments are not made as ordered, the Missouri Family Support Division (FSD) is responsible for enforcing child support obligations. The FSD has several enforcement tools at its disposal, including income withholding, tax refund intercepts, license suspension, passport denial, and credit reporting.

Income withholding is one of the most common enforcement methods. It requires the employer to deduct child support payments directly from the non-custodial parent’s wages. License suspension affects professional licenses, such as driver’s licenses, occupational licenses, and hunting or fishing licenses, until the child support arrears are paid.

If the non-custodial parent is significantly behind on child support payments, the FSD may intercept their state and federal tax refunds to fulfill the owed amount. Passport denial is another enforcement method, where the non-custodial parent’s passport may be denied or revoked if they owe more than $2,500 in child support.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Can child support be modified?

A: Yes, child support can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances. This may include changes in income, the child’s needs, or parenting time arrangement. However, a court order must be obtained to modify child support.

Q: What happens if a parent refuses to pay child support?

A: If a parent refuses to pay child support, the custodial parent can seek enforcement through the Missouri Family Support Division. The FSD has various tools at their disposal to collect the owed child support.

Q: Can child support be terminated if the child turns 18?

A: In Missouri, child support typically ends when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, if the child has special needs or disabilities, child support may be extended beyond this age.

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Q: Can child support be paid directly between parents?

A: While child support payments can be made directly between parents, it is generally recommended to utilize the FSD’s services. This ensures proper documentation and enforcement if issues arise.

Q: Can child support orders be enforced across state lines?

A: Yes, child support orders can be enforced across state lines through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This act establishes procedures for enforcing child support orders across different states.

In conclusion, child support plays a crucial role in ensuring children’s well-being in divorce or separation cases. Missouri’s child support guidelines utilize the Income Shares Model to calculate child support obligations based on the parents’ income and the child’s needs. The Missouri Family Support Division enforces child support payments through various tools, including income withholding, license suspension, and tax refund intercepts. Understanding these processes and seeking legal advice when necessary can help both parents navigate child support obligations effectively.

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