In Missouri, both parents owe a duty of care to their children. The parent with whom the child lives is known as the custodial parent, while the other parent (who does not have primary custody) is known as the non-custodial parent. The custodial parent meets their duty of care for their child directly, while the non-custodial parent meets their duty of care by making child support payments.
Determining child support payments can be a fairly straightforward process, and there is even a court-provided calculator to help you determine what your minimum child support payment is. You can always agree to a support amount that is above the minimum, but the calculator can provide a floor for establishing what is reasonable and required by law.
How is the Amount of Child Support in Missouri Determined?
As noted above, the court has a calculator which you can use to get an estimate of the minimum amount of child support payments that you will be required to pay. In arriving at these numbers, the courts consider a variety of factors. These factors include considering the standard of living that the child would have had if the parents remained married, the financial needs and resources of each parent and the child, and the physical and emotional needs of the child, and each parents’ ability to meet them.
In negotiating child support payments, you should consider any special needs of the child. It can also be a good idea to work with a financial specialist to determine the exact cost of meeting your child’s needs and your ability to do it so that you can be sure that the payments you are requesting will actually meet your needs.
Child support payments must generally be made until a child is 18. However, if the child is still attending school or has special needs, the non-custodial parent may be required to continue making child support payments until the child is 21 or even older. If, however, the child becomes self-supporting, gets married, or enlists in the military, the support terminates, regardless of whether they are still within the eligible period.
Modifying Missouri Child Support Payments
It is hard to write an agreement that applies forever. Circumstances change, such as custody or income. One parent may have to move to another state, or the other parent may need to rearrange the custody agreement due to their work schedule. When these things happen, it is best to communicate about them and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
A lawyer can help you and your co-parent draft a new agreement that works for your current circumstances, and submit the proposal to the court. The court then simply has to decide whether to approve the agreement, which it will do, provided the judge finds that doing so is in the best interest of the child.
Resourceful Child Support Attorneys in St. Charles County
If you are in need of a child support agreement or modification, the experienced Missouri family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group are ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help you move toward the best possible outcome for you and your family.