Understanding Child Support In Missouri
One of the most important and often misunderstood aspects of any divorce involving children is child support. Parents who pay tend to think they’re forking over luxury money, and custodial parents who receive it are inclined to think it’s never enough. How are payment amounts determined, and how are they to be spent? Is there ever a settlement where both parties are satisfied with the outcomes?
Who Pays Child Support?
Child support is designed to benefit the child, and it is a child’s right to receive that financial support from the parent who has the least amount of parenting time. This is true regardless of a parent’s gender or income and is generally the case even when parents have joint physical custody, except when incomes are so similar that a judge agrees otherwise.
Determining Child Support
Missouri courts rely on Form 14 to determine the appropriate payment. It lists the considerations to be made as support payments are determined. For starters, it’s necessary to take a look at both parents’ income. Expenses such as childcare, health insurance, and any unusual costs are considered, as well as how many overnight visits the child has with the noncustodial parent throughout the year.
How Long Do Payments Last?
In Missouri, child support payments continue until the child reaches 18 or graduates from high school. In the event the child enrolls full-time in a university, vocational school, or community college within a few months of high school graduation, payments must continue until age 21 as long as the child is passing half of the classes. Payments could conclude before age 21 if the student were to stop attending, graduate, or marry prior to age 21.
The Mechanics of Payment
In the state of Missouri payments are funneled through Missouri’s Child Support Program from one parent to another. This may occur online or by mail, or even in cash in some cases. Sometimes payments are deducted directly from one parent’s paycheck. The parent receiving payments may choose direct deposit or a prepaid debit card.
Spending Child Support Funds
Concerns about how child support money is spent are not uncommon among divorced couples. Obviously, the money is intended to allow the child to continue to experience the life to which he or she was accustomed prior to divorce. Paying for housing, food, clothing, education, and medical expenses are, obviously, the top priority. Still, spending for entertainment, extracurricular activities, and vacations is not out of bounds by any means. Even if a paying parent is unhappy with the way a custodial parent spends the money, payments must continue. Unfortunately, sometimes custodial parents interfere with court-ordered visitation. Even then, payments must continue, and the paying parent must seek other legal remedies to the problem.
Advocating for You
Child support is one of many difficult and emotional issues divorcing couples must address. Having an aggressive and honest divorce attorney by your side can make this, and other facets of your divorce easier. The experienced and fair Springfield divorce lawyers at Courtney & Mills will always advocate for the best possible outcomes for you. Contact us for a confidential consultation today.