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If you have children and are going through or considering divorce (dissolution of marriage), child support is one of the issues that will need to be addressed. At Cavanagh & Associates, we can help you handle child support proceedings with professionalism and skill, to protect your financial security and your child’s well-being.
St. Louis child support lawyer Jack Cavanagh understands the nuances of Missouri’s child support guidelines and also recognizes the importance of a beneficial support arrangement. Using over five decades of legal experience, he leads our family law firm in developing legal strategies that address our clients’ individual needs in divorce, custody, and child support matters.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is a periodic and regular payment, usually expressed in monthly amount and paid by one parent to the other parent to help pay the costs of caring for a shared child. Although child support was historically paid by the “non-custodial parent” to the “custodial parent,” those terms are no longer used.
With the changing customs and practices applied in making child custody orders, the designation of “custodial” parent is blurred. With more and more actual “50/50” physical custody schedules, there may not even be a parent who would have been designated as “custodial” and one who designated “non-custodial.”
“Parent Paying Support” & “Parent Receiving Support”
Today, the terms “parent paying support” and “parent receiving support” are less likely to cause contention or concern. Child support payments are calculated based on the income of both parents. The income calculation includes job-related income, including overtime and bonuses if historically consistently received, interest income, business income, rental income, investment income, dividends, and other types of income.
For divorcing parents, if there is spousal support (“maintenance”) paid by one parent to the other, that support is subtracted from the income of the parent paying support and added to the income of the parent receiving support when preparing the required Presumed Child Support Calculation Worksheet.
Additionally, overnight stays may affect child support payments:
- Child support guidelines include factors such as the number of overnight stays per year the children spend with each parent.
- The number of overnight stays with the “parent paying support” translates into a “child custody credit” in the form of a reduction from what the paying parent would otherwise pay to the receiving parent.
- The more overnight stays with the paying parent, the greater the percentage and amount of the “child custody credit.”
Does Child Support Extend Through College?
In Missouri, child support is expected to cover financially and expenses. Child support is calculated by taking into account the children's learning needs as well as the quality of life the child would have if the marriage had not been broken. Parents are typically obligated to support their children before they turn 18. Additionally, child support may be applied past the age of 18 for academic purposes.
Child Support Through College Education
When your children are involved, parents are mostly concerned with visitation, child custody arrangements, and the child's developmental needs. Parents should, nevertheless, consider their child's long-term and expected needs, as well as the expensive cost of a university degree. It can be daunting to decide how much to put aside for the future when education expenses are too dependent on:
- Private vs. public education
- In-state vs. out-of-state enrollment
- Financial aid opportunities
Whether parents don't prepare for education funding, if their child is attending higher education, their child support commitments will remain until the child turns 18. According to Missouri Revised Law 452.340, a parent's responsibility to provide child support expires when the child turns the age of eighteen.
Does the Other Parent Get Child Support for the College Student?
The noncustodial parent of an university student may object to child support payments continuing to be paid to the primary caregiver. If the child is enrolled in a postsecondary or higher academic institution, “the paying parent responsible may file a petition to modify the agreement to direct the mandated parent to make payments to the child,” according to Missouri child support legislation.
Presumed Missouri Child Support Calculation Worksheet
In Missouri, the Presumed Child Support Calculation Worksheet is commonly called “Form 14.” The costs of health, dental and vision insurances, work-related child care, ongoing medical and other special needs expenses, and other factors are also considered. The guidelines for determining child support are comprehensive and some of the rules can be complicated and confusing. This makes it all the more important to involve a skilled St. Louis child support attorney.
Contrary to instinct or common belief, the paying parent’s ability to pay is rarely directly considered when determining child support:
- In cases of 50/50 physical custody, if one parent earns substantially more than the other, there will likely still be a child support order.
- In cases of 50/50 physical custody in which the income of the parents are nearly equal, there may not be any child support ordered.
To have your questions answered regarding child support, contact the St. Louis family law attorneys at Cavanagh & Associates to schedule a consultation. We help parents in and around St. Charles, St. Louis, and Chesterfield. We can talk to you about your concerns and provide frank answers to your questions, helping you understand your rights, responsibilities, and legal options regarding child support and other areas of your divorce or paternity matter.
How is Child Support Collected in Missouri?
If there is a child support order in place, it is mandatory for the parent ordered to pay the child support to pay as designated. If there is no payment received or if it is not received in a timely manner, you are able to request that that the support is deducted directly from their paycheck. To take it a step further, a Federal Income Withholding Order can be filed if needed to terminate an existing support order and start new wage withholding.
How Do I Modify My Child Support in Missouri?
After a child support order is finalized, it can still be modified by the court if there is a change in circumstances that makes the support payments unreasonable.
Some examples of life changes that could warrant a child support modification are:
- Change in job
- Remarriage of former spouse
- Custody changes
- Financial needs of children or parents
Circumstances such as unemployment may not result in a modification if the unemployed parent has the capacity to earn sufficient money based on factors including their skill level, education, and job opportunity. Ultimately it is up to the court to decide if a modification is warranted considering the circumstances of both parties.
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