How to Modify Child Support in Missouri
Child support is a legal obligation that ensures the financial well-being of children when their parents are no longer together. In Missouri, child support orders are determined based on the income of both parents and the needs of the child. However, as circumstances change over time, it may become necessary to modify the existing child support order. This article will guide you through the process of modifying child support in Missouri, including important information and frequently asked questions.
Understanding Child Support Modification in Missouri:
Child support modification refers to the process of changing an existing child support order due to a significant change in circumstances. These changes could include an increase or decrease in income, a change in the child’s needs, or any other factors that may impact the financial support required. It is important to note that a child support order can only be modified by a court order; informal agreements between the parents are not legally binding.
Requirements for Modifying Child Support in Missouri:
To modify child support in Missouri, you must meet certain requirements. These include:
1. Significant Change in Circumstances: There must be a significant change in circumstances since the last child support order was issued. This change can be related to income, employment, health, or any other factor that affects the child’s financial needs.
2. Time Elapsed: There must be at least six months since the last child support order was established or modified.
3. Substantial Difference in Child Support Amount: The new child support amount must be at least 20% different from the current child support amount.
Steps to Modify Child Support in Missouri:
1. Gather Necessary Documents: Collect all relevant documents, such as pay stubs, tax returns, medical records, and any other evidence that supports your claim for modification.
2. Petition for Modification: File a “Motion to Modify Child Support” with the court that issued the original child support order. This can be done by filling out the appropriate forms available at the local court or on the Missouri Courts website.
3. Serve the Other Party: Once the petition is filed, you must serve the other party with a copy of the motion. This can be done by certified mail, personal delivery, or with the help of a process server.
4. Attend a Hearing: After the other party has been served, a court hearing will be scheduled. Both parties must attend and present their case. It is advisable to hire an attorney to represent your interests during the hearing.
5. Provide Documentation: During the hearing, present all relevant documentation and evidence to support your request for modification. This may include financial statements, medical records, or any other evidence that proves the significant change in circumstances.
6. Await the Judge’s Decision: After the hearing, the judge will review the evidence presented and make a decision. If the judge grants the modification, a new child support order will be issued.
Q: Can child support be modified if there is no substantial change in circumstances?
A: Generally, child support can only be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. However, Missouri law allows for a modification review every three years without requiring a substantial change.
Q: How long does it take to modify child support in Missouri?
A: The time it takes to modify child support in Missouri varies depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. It can take several months to reach a final decision.
Q: Can child support be modified retroactively?
A: In Missouri, child support modifications can be made retroactively to the date of filing the motion, but not beyond that. It is important to file the motion as soon as possible to avoid losing potential retroactive support.
Q: Can child support be modified if the custodial parent remarries?
A: The remarriage of the custodial parent does not automatically trigger a modification of child support. However, a change in the custodial parent’s financial circumstances may be considered as a basis for modification.
Q: Can child support be modified if the non-custodial parent loses their job?
A: A loss of employment can be a valid reason to modify child support. The non-custodial parent must provide evidence of their efforts to find new employment or prove that the job loss was beyond their control.
Modifying child support in Missouri is a legal process that requires a significant change in circumstances and court approval. It is important to understand the requirements and follow the necessary steps to ensure a successful modification. If you need assistance with modifying child support, it is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.