How Child Support is Calculated in Missouri?

How Child Support is Calculated in Missouri?

For divorcing parents with children, how child support is calculated in Missouri is a major concern. The goal of the child support system is to allow the children to live according to the same standards they would have if the parents were still together, while ensuring that both parents provide a fair share according to their capabilities.  With this in mind, the courts consider many factors when calculating child support, through using the Child Support Amount Calculation Sheet, commonly known as Form 14, as well as by taking into account each family’s unique needs.

Navigating Form 14 can be complicated, and making mistakes can result in one party’s paying too much or receiving too little child support. To make sure everything is done properly, it can help to consult with an experienced Missouri family law child support attorney who can provide legal advice and guidance to help calculate fair payments and prevent contentious disagreements and problems that harm children and parents alike.

How Child Support is Calculated in Missouri Through Form 14

In Missouri, child support payments are generally determined using Missouri’s Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet Form 14, although in some cases the court will allow deviations. The following factors are some that are considered when calculating child support in Missouri:

  • The total number of children. 
  • The combined monthly gross income and the adjusted monthly income for each parent. Once gross income calculations are done, adjustments are made for other child support obligations and alimony payments. This is used to establish each parent’s proportionate share of the child’s expenses.
  • Additional costs. These may include work-related child care expenses for each parent, health insurance costs, and other costs such as extracurricular activities and private school tuition. Once the calculations of the additional costs are obtained, the parent’s support obligation is then calculated by taking the total amount of the child’s expenses and multiplying it by each parent’s proportionate share.
  • The number of annual overnight visits the non-custodial parent has. Form 14 allows an adjustment for a portion of amounts expended by the parent obligated to pay support during periods of overnight visitation or custody.

After all these considerations and calculations are made, the result will be the presumed child support amount.

Other Considerations for Child Support Calculations in MO

While the Form 14 Missouri state child support guidelines generally provide guidelines on what the presumed child support payment should be, sometimes a court may deviate and order a greater or lesser amount.  Missouri child support laws offer several guidelines for the judge to determine proper child support payments. The following are some factors that may influence the amount of child support to be paid:

  • The child’s physical condition and mental well-being and costs of health care and special medical needs
  • The child’s educational needs and the costs of day care or college
  • An estimate of the standard of living the child would have if the parents still lived together and what would be required to maintain this standard
  • The financial needs and financial resources of the child and the parents.

If both parents wish to deviate from Form 14, they can do so in an uncontested case or settlement. If the case goes to trial, judges usually will order the Form 14 amount. Still, the parents may deviate from it if they can provide evidence that shows a different amount would be more reasonable and better meet the child’s needs.

Missouri generally uses the “income share” method for calculating child support payments. This method ensures that both the custodial and non-custodial parent contribute to a child’s upkeep. A judge can modify or deviate from this method if parents have shared or joint custody. If this is the case, after calculating each parent’s income, the court will consider the amount of time each parent spends with the child and the expenses each is responsible for to determine the amount, if any, that must be paid by one parent to the other. In some cases, the child support obligation determined by Form 14 will be divided in half to arrive at an appropriate amount.

There is also a “percentage of income” method for calculating child support, which is a simple percentage of the non-custodial parent’s monthly income that is given to the custodial parent for a child’s living expenses.

As an alternative to a court order, child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents. This can be negotiated by child support lawyers or by the parents themselves. You can find an interactive Missouri child support calculator tool here.

Missouri child support is coordinated through the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program, a division of the Missouri Department of Social Services. You will need to complete an application to receive child support through CSE. You can get a printable version of the application here, or call the Missouri CSE information line at 1-800-859-7999.

What is the Maximum Child Support in Missouri?

It is hard to determine what the maximum child support in Missouri would be. Your child custody lawyer can give you better details during a consultation about the potential maximum payment you may be able to receive (or pay) based on the unique factors in your case.

Missouri parents can develop a residential schedule for their child/children explaining the details of their physical custody arrangement in which a child lives and spends time with each parent. Parenting time does affect the amount of child support. When the paying parent has 36 to 183 overnights a year, they deduct a percentage from their support obligation. You can see a chart here. A judge can deviate from the adjustment if parents have significant income differences or if one parent pays the majority of a child’s costs over and above the calculation, such as for piano lessons, sports teams, clothing, braces, etc.

How is Child Support Paid in Missouri?

Usually, the paying parent does not pay the receiving parent directly. Rather, Missouri’s Child Support Program typically collects payment and distributes the money. A paying parent can submit payments online, by mail or, in rare circumstances, in another manner. Ordinarily, a judge will issue an income-withholding order that automatically deducts payments from the paying parent’s paycheck. A receiving parent can get the money on a prepaid debit card or through direct deposit into their bank account.

In Missouri, the receiving parent is not allowed to deny the other parent access to a child for failure to make child support payments or for late payments. The residential schedule must be followed. It can be changed only if your attorney successfully challenges the arrangement in court.

Enforcing Child Support Orders

Missouri Child Support Enforcement (CSE) can help you ensure that the paying parent meets their obligations. CSE has the power to enforce your order by intercepting tax refunds, withholding income, reporting a non-paying parent to the credit bureaus, placing liens on real or personal property, intercepting lottery winnings, ordering employers to enroll non-custodial parents’ children in health insurance plans, suspending driver’s licenses, and requesting contempt-of-court charges. A Missouri child support attorney at Birk Law Firm can help you with this.

Why Choose Birk Law Firm to Calculate Child Support in MO

The family law practice at Birk Law Firm combines compassion and care with aggressive representation. Attorney Kelvin Birk holds not only a law degree, but he is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). That means he knows how to dig into the numbers and find out what’s really going on. He is an astute financial professional in addition to having keen legal knowledge about Missouri’s child support and child custody laws.

If you’re wanting to have a child support order changed, the attorneys at Birk Law Firm can help with that. Only a judge can alter a support agreement, so you will have to file a Motion or Petition with the local court. Depending on whether you can agree with the other parent, you may not have to actually go to court. Parents wanting to modify a child support order should file a motion to modify child support to have this done legally. To have a support order changed, you must show a change in circumstances since the time the order was originally filed. You must also show that the change would be in the child’s best interests.

Contact a Missouri Child Support Lawyer Today

If you want to learn more about how child support is calculated in Missouri or if you want an existing support order modified, talk to the skilled and experienced family law attorneys at Birk Law Firm. We have helped countless parents get the child support payments they deserve. We have also helped negotiate support payments between parents wanting an amicable solution.

We are happy to provide legal services to ensure that your child is taken care of and that all parties can move forward with financially sound agreements.

To find out more about how we can help, call us today.

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Attorney Kelvin Birk

Attorney Kelvin Birk

Kelvin Birk is a lawyer as well as a certified public accountant, with more than 30 years of experience in accounting and tax and business consulting, and more than 20 years of experience in numerous legal matters. This combined expertise allows our law firm to provide a level of service above that of other firms. Whatever your legal situation, your attorney at Birk Law Firm can counsel you as to the tax implications. We have experience in providing myriad legal representation services to residents of southeast Missouri and other areas.. [ Attorney Bio ]