Springfield Child Support Attorney
Whether married, never married or divorced, both parents share in the obligation to support their children financially. When the parents are unmarried or living apart due to divorce or legal separation, court orders are necessary to create a legally enforceable obligation to pay child support and make sure children and their custodial parents get the financial assistance they need for appropriate care.
Statutory guidelines in Missouri dictate how child support is calculated in a Missouri divorce, but the answer is not always cut-and-dried. Family law judges can deviate from the guidelines amount if they see that a different amount is in the child’s best interests. At Courtney & Mills, we take the time to educate our clients about what the law requires and what they might expect in their Springfield divorce. We’ll help make sure the guidelines amount is calculated correctly, and we’re here to argue for or against a deviation from guidelines, as appropriate. Learn about Missouri child support laws below, and contact the Springfield child support attorneys Courtney & Mills for compassionate and smart advice and representation in your Springfield child support case.
Missouri child support laws and calculation
When a Missouri divorce court orders child support, that obligation will last until the child turns 18 or finishes high school, or until age 21 if the child enrolls full-time in college (or part-time under certain circumstances) and attends regularly, achieving satisfactory grades. The support order can also be extended to age 21 or more if the child has a disability and has special needs for continued support. A support order can also be terminated early if the child dies, marries, becomes self-supporting or enters active military service.
Among the papers and forms you have to complete and file in your Missouri divorce, Form No. 14 is required if you have minor children. Form 14 is the Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet. This worksheet takes into account both parents’ monthly gross incomes and adjusts for expenses such as other existing child support orders and court-ordered maintenance (spousal support). These calculations will arrive at a proportionate share of each parent’s income and a basic child support amount.
The basic child support amount can further be adjusted on Form 14 by considering additional child-rearing costs, such as reasonable work-related child care costs, the child care tax credit, health insurance costs for the children, and any uninsured extraordinary medical costs which are agreed upon by the parents or court-ordered. Finally, the number of overnights a child spends with each parent for custody or visitation also figures into the calculation.
The Form 14 worksheet itself is only one page long, but it comes with 14 pages of complicated instructions. Our Springfield child support attorneys can walk you through completing the worksheet completely and correctly, including making sure each parent is fully and accurately reporting all forms of gross income. If one parent underreports or hides income, it’s the children who will suffer.
Knowledgeable and effective advocacy regarding deviations from child support amounts
The Form 14 worksheet arrives at the “presumed child support amount.” Although this amount is presumed correct, the judge can order a different amount of support if convinced it would be in the child’s best interests to do so. Under Missouri law (section 452.340), the judge is allowed to consider “all relevant factors,” including:
- The financial needs and resources of the child;
- The financial resources and needs of the parents;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
- The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child’s educational needs;
- The child’s physical and legal custody arrangements, including the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the reasonable expenses associated with the custody or visitation arrangements; and
- The reasonable work-related child care expenses of each parent.
Where appropriate, we’ll prepare and present a persuasive case to the court arguing for or against a deviation from the presumed child support amount, making sure the judge has the facts and is prepared to consider the relevant factors which argue in favor of or opposition to a different amount of child support.
Get the Right Result for Your Kids When it Comes to Child Support in Your Springfield Divorce
For help with child support in your Missouri divorce or child custody case, call the Springfield child support attorneys Courtney & Mills at 417-869-9888.