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Child support issues are related to custody disputes because the amount of child support due to one parent can be dependent on the amount of time the child spends with that parent. Child support is a critical issue in divorce and paternity cases. The determination of child support impacts the ability of the parents to provide shelter, clothing, education, health care, and other necessities for their children. Child support can also cause serious financial hardship to the paying parent, particularly when the parent is paying more than his or her fair share of the support obligation.
We assist clients evaluating child support issues. We represent custodial parents who are not receiving their fair share of child support, as well as non-custodial parents who are paying more than their fair share of child support.
How is child support determined?
Under Missouri law, the "Form 14" and child support worksheet are used to calculate the presumed child support amount. The Form 14 and worksheet utilize an equation or formula to determine the presumed child support amount. The factors in the equation or formula include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The gross (before taxes) monthly income of each party.
- Any support the parties pay to someone else unrelated to the divorce, by court order.
- The cost of health insurance, work-related daycare and extraordinary expenses for the children.
- The number of overnight visits a non-residential custodian has with the child.
- The federal tax credit for the residential custodian.
Click here for a copy of a "Form 14."
Determining the correct inputs into the Form 14 is complicated. For example, gross income includes all income from any source (before taxes and other deductions), and includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, overtime payments, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, etc. The calculation also requires a determination of what, if any, credits apply, or what additional expenses are to be added to the chart presumed amount. Once all the proper inputs are made, the form provides for a pro rata calculation based on the parents relative incomes, including consideration of which parent pays for health care coverage, daycare, and applicable visitation credits.
Since the calculation of child support is not straightforward, it is wise to have an attorney experienced in family law representing you in the child support proceedings.
Is it possible for the court to enter child support that is different than the presumed child support amount on the Form 14?
Yes. However, the Court must deem the Form 14 to be unjust and inappropriate under the specific circumstances of the case.
Can a court order an employer to deduct child support from the supporting parent's salary?
Yes. This is called a wage assignment. In some counties, a wage assignment is mandatory.
Do I have to report my child support payments as taxable income on my federal income tax return?
No. You may, however, be able to claim the dependency exemption, child care credits and/or head of household status. Check with an experienced family law attorney and/or a CPA regarding any credits, deductions, and exceptions that can be claimed on your tax return.
In Missouri, when does the obligation to pay child support end?
Generally, when the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. Child support could end earlier if the child becomes emancipated (gets married, joins the military or in a few other specific situations). Child support may also continue after age 18 if your child continues with full-time school, such as college or vocational school, or if the child is disabled. The determination that child support should extend past the age of 18 for any child can be complicated and often includes obligations of a party to provide the paying party with information. If you are in a situation where you either receive support or pay support of a child around this age, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the obligations by both parties are being met.
Can I stop paying child support if my ex-spouse won't let me see the children?
No. Proper enforcement of visitation or parenting time rights begins with filing a petition for contempt, a family access motion, or referring the matter to mediation. Persistent withholding of court-ordered visitation or parenting time may be grounds for a custody modification. Click here for more information about enforcing court orders.
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