Our Cape Girardeau child support lawyer can help manage one of the most contentious and emotional issues in a divorce, paternity or custody case. Emotions can run high; and with the focus on finances, it can be a stressful time for all concerned parties.
At Birk Law Firm, our Cape Girardeau child support lawyer has years of experience working to protect our clients’ rights. We ensure that child support is calculated fairly and accurately, using Missouri state guidelines. We want our clients to get the right child support and ensure that courts consider all relevant factors.
Even after courts agree on initial child support orders, things can change. People move, remarry, lose jobs or take positions that pay more or less than before. The law takes into account for those changes in people’s lives, allowing for modifications that reflect new situations.
Our child support attorney helps clients with those modifications and enforces the child support agreements.
What Is Child Support?
As is true in states across the country, in Missouri each parent bears the responsibility of supporting their children. Generally, the parent with custody receives payments from the parent without custody.
Even if the custodial parent has the means to support a child, the court may still determine that the non-custodial parent must pay child support.
Child support has the best interests of the children at its center. States use formulas to determine who owes child support and how much. While courts ultimately decide on the amounts, parties may work with a child support lawyer or mediator to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement.
How a Child Support Lawyer Works for You
Your Cape Girardeau child support attorney focuses on understanding your unique situation regarding child support. A child support lawyer can assist with overcoming the emotional barriers related to child support and helping clients understand the process, laws, calculations and implications.
Many situations can affect child support amounts. Among the most common are:
- An ex-spouse’s income increases or decreases, whether substantially or not.
- A parent relocates, whether for personal reasons or a new job.
- A parent loses his or her job.
- A custodial parent offers to provide daycare services for children.
- A child seeks to live with the other parent.
- One partner is alienating children from the other.
- There is evidence of domestic violence.
Depending on the educational status of the child, Missouri’s child support laws can require parents to pay for their children until they turn 21. This rule often comes as a surprise, as many parents think child support automatically ends when the children turn 18.
In addition, if a child enrolls in college or vocational school and meets specific requirements, the ex-spouse must continue to provide child support.
How Missouri Calculates Child Support
In general, the parent who does not have custody most of the time usually pays the parent who does have the majority of custody. If both parents have roughly equal custody time and make about the same amount of money, child support may be minimal or not mandated.
The Missouri state courts use many forms, charts and formulas to calculate child support. These calculations include many factors, including:
- Gross income of both parents
- Number of children
- Child care costs
- Health insurance costs
- Other expenses and obligations.
Other factors include the standard of living the children would have had if the marriage had not ended in divorce, any physical and emotional conditions the children have, their educational needs, and the amount of time spent with each parent.
These forms and worksheets are complex, and often parents need help understanding the components. You also need to provide documents such as pay stubs, tax forms or bank statements to confirm form data.
Cape Girardeau child support lawyers in Cape Girardeau can help sort through the forms. A child support attorney can also help account for unique situations in your case, explain the tax implications of these agreements and how income from multiple sources can affect the child support amounts. To obtain the best possible outcome for both spouses, and the children involved, it’s a smart idea to contact a child support attorney.
Need assistance with Missouri child support calculations? Let the skilled child support lawyers at the Birk Law Firm assist you. Contact our attorneys today at 572-332-8585.
Enforcing Child Support with a Cape Girardeau Child Support Lawyer
Unfortunately, at times an ex-partner or ex-spouse fails or refuses to pay child support. If a non-custodial parent is not living up to their obligations, there are different steps that can be taken.
A contempt of court order addresses cases where someone refuses to comply with a court order. Courts can also assist with notifications or motions for sums due. They will also contact the ex-spouse’s employer to seek assistance in paying owed amounts.
There is also a state-run child support division in the Missouri Department of Social Services. The agency assists with locating parents, establishing paternity and enforcing child support orders.
It is important to understand your legal options regarding owed child support. That’s where a child support attorney comes in, helping you understand the options, processes and support.
Cape Girardeau Child Support Lawyer Assists with Child Custody
Child custody and child support are intertwined. Child custody plays a role in child support calculations. Experienced child support lawyers can assist with child custody disputes as well. Child custody needs can change over time, meaning you need a staunch advocate to help you understand the implications for your finances.
Whether you are seeking custody, want a change in custody arrangements, or need to understand how child custody and child support are connected, speak with a child custody lawyer.
There are many reasons why you might need a child support lawyer, including:
- You are behind on child support payments.
- Your ex-spouse is behind on child support.
- You believe you are entitled to child support even though you initially did not get any.
- Your circumstances around child support have changed.
Do you need help establishing or changing your child support payments? Contact the Birk Law Firm at 573-332-8585 to get a free initial consultation from an experienced child support attorney.
When to Contact a Cape Girardeau Child Support Lawyer
If you lose your job or your income changes, it’s important that you contact a child support attorney immediately. One pitfall is that people do not file for adjustments soon enough. A court can go back to the date you file for changes and make changes to your payments back to that date.
However, if you keep making the same payments without filing, the courts will not retroactively adjust payment amounts.
Frequently Asked Questions about Missouri Child Support
Child support is an important consideration when divorcing. Child support payments will affect the entire family and can drastically change the financial situation for everyone. It is important to remember that child support protects the children involved and ensures that funds are available for their care.
Child support in Missouri is complex and can be confusing. Here are some frequently asked questions about Missouri child support.
Generally, the answer is no. Spousal support, also called alimony, is calculated similarly but separately. It considers the earning capacity of the spouses, length of the marriage, age and health, and the conduct of the spouses during the marriage. One spouse usually pays spousal support and child support to the other.
The parenting plan agreed to by both spouses can affect the amount of child support owed. Missouri guidelines allow parents a visitation credit for the number of overnight stays children have with the non-custodial parent. In essence, it can reduce the amount the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent to account for time caring for the children.
Divorce often has consequences for everyone. Consider that the parents need to create their own households, resulting in the duplication of rent or mortgage costs and goods and services. The affected children will spend time with both parents. That means they will need places to sleep, clothes, toys, food and other items at both places. If the parents do not live nearby, transportation costs can also be considerable.
Understandably, at times a parent may fall behind in child support payments. However, those legally mandated payments are required and necessary for the children involved. Missouri laws will ensure that a parent pays what they owe.
If parents do not comply with a payment agreement, they can face fines and, in some cases, jail time. While amounts vary, the longer you owe past payments, the more severe fines can be. Courts can bring criminal charges if a parent does not pay support for six months in a 12-month timeframe.
The custodial parent can ask for a court hearing before a judge to address past payments owed. If the non-custodial parent fails to attend, a judge may issue a warrant for their arrest. The severity of charges and jail time can depend on the amount unpaid.
If you are behind on your child support payments, it’s critical that you contact a child support lawyer.
No, you should not be required to pay taxes on child support payments. Note that laws around child care credits, child tax credits and dependencies change frequently. Be sure to review your court orders and consult a tax professional if necessary.
Contact a Child Support Attorney with Experience
At the Birk Law Firm, we understand the emotions and challenges of child support. Let us help you with the advice and counsel you need. Call us today at 573-332-8585 for a free initial consultation.
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Why Choose Birk Law?
Birk Law Firm is a small firm by choice that is big on client services. Attorney Kelvin Birk and his team are responsive to their clients’ needs. When we sign on as your law firm, you can count on us for strong legal counsel, from negotiations to settlement to trial.
Our clients benefit from the intertwining of Kelvin Birk’s legal and CPA background and experience. We provide well-rounded advice to solve both legal and financial issues and to come up with creative solutions. We use modern technology to deliver legal services in a more efficient and client-focused manner than was previously possible.
We provide personalized and compassionate service. We believe that each client’s matter is the most important matter in the world to them, and we strive to treat it that way.