How Far Behind In Child Support Before Jail In Missouri title

How Far Behind In Child Support Before Jail In Missouri?

If you have a custody arrangement, you may wonder how far behind in child support someone can get before going to jail in Missouri. Find all the answers you need here. 

Summer Masterson-Goethals
Masterson Law
(417) 522-1280
1771 S. Fremont
Springfield, MO 65804

How Far Behind In Child Support Before Jail In Missouri?

Frequently, family courts in Springfield and throughout Missouri, order child support for parents who are unmarried, separated or going through a divorce in Missouri. These financial payments are usually made from non-custodial parents to custodial parents. Child support payments are ordered to make sure that both parents bear the monetary obligation of raising their children.

While many people who are ordered to make such payments comply, there are those who fall into arrears. This might be by choice, or due to inescapable situations, such as a job loss or a loss of income. Despite the reason a parent is overdue on their payments, Missouri law allows courts to take action to ensure that the parent pays what they owe. 

If you are struggling to make or receive timely child support payments, you likely have questions about how child support is enforced and what the consequences are for missing payments. Masterson Law, your Springfield, Missouri family law firm, has put together this brief guide to keep you informed on everything you need to know about child support in Missouri, including the laws surrounding how far behind in child support before jail in Missouri.

How Far Behind In Child Support Before Jail In Missouri

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Missouri Division Of Child Support Enforcement Laws

If you have been ordered to pay child support or are on the receiving end of child support payments, you will likely come into contact with the Family Support Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services. The Missouri Household Assistance Department (FSD) is a state agency that supplies child assistance services to custodial parents, non-custodial parents, guardians, adult children, and alleged fathers to join local attorneys in protecting families throughout the state of Missouri.

Missouri Deadbeat Dad Law

When a non-custodial parent is behind on child support payments, he or she may worry about the possibility of jail time. However, there are a variety of child support enforcement alternatives available with the Missouri Family Support Division to motivate parents to pay before the option of jail comes up. The Family Support Division (FSD) assists households by supplying the following services surrounding child support:

  • Establishing support orders: FSD establishes child support orders when an order does not exist. When figuring out the quantity of the kid assistance payment, FSD personnel utilize the child support standards developed by the Missouri Supreme Court. The standards take the earnings of each parent into account. 
  • Modifying support orders: FSD likewise examines existing child support orders to identify if the orders should be altered based on changes in laws or circumstances.
  • Enforcing support orders: In the case of a non-paying, or “deadbeat” parent, FSD helps families receive child support payments by:
    • Withholding earnings 
    • Obstructing tax refunds
    • Reporting noncustodial parents who are past-due on child support payments to credit bureaus
    • Filing liens on property
    • Obstructing lottery winnings
    • Suspending licenses
    • Asking the prosecutor to file civil contempt or criminal non-support charges upon demand by the custodial parent
    • Combining efforts with other states to gather child support payments when noncustodial parents live outside Missouri

How Much Child Support Can You Owe Before Going To Jail?

Possibly the most severe approach to child support enforcement in Missouri is through a contempt of court order. If you owe unpaid child support, the custodial parent can request a hearing prior to a judge and ask that you be held in contempt of court. You should be served a file ordering you to participate in the hearing, where you will need to go and describe why you have not paid the amount that you owe. If you do not go to your hearing, the Missouri family court can release a warrant for your arrest. The amount of child support owed for it to get to this point varies from case-to-case, but the longer you let your child support payments remain past-due, the more likely you will be charged with contempt.

If you participate in the hearing, you could still go to jail or prison for breaking the order to pay the child support. This is a choice by the judge depending upon how persuading your story is regarding why you have not paid and whether or not you have hired a lawyer. Criminal prosecution is possible if a paying parent stops paying child support for 6 months within a twelve-month duration. Aggregate delinquency of more than $5,000 is a felony. Criminal nonsupport charges penalize the failure to pay, but they do not lead to a new order for payment, unlike a civil contempt order.

It’s important to note that judges hardly ever put a parent in jail for contempt of court. Typically, this occurs if an income-withholding order or a wage garnishment will not work. Courts acknowledge that a jailed parent can not generate income to make child support payments. However, if you are called to court, you should always consult a family law attorney before taking any action. An attorney can help you develop a strong defense to limit the possibility of jail time so you can get back on track with your child support payments.

Missouri Division Of Child Support Enforcement Laws

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What Happens When You Go To Jail For Child Support?

Many noncustodial parents think that if they fall behind on child support at a time when they are genuinely not able to make a payment, what they owe can, later on, be lowered by the court when an excuse is provided. If you wait to describe your circumstances, the court will be unable to decrease the back payments you owe. With the help of an attorney, it is essential that you alert the court as soon as your financial situation changes, offer evidence of the decrease in earnings, and ask that your payments be lowered appropriately. 

If you do this, the court might briefly or completely lower the number of future payments. Without taking appropriate action, your likelihood of going to jail and the length of your jail sentence will only increase.

How Long Can Someone Go To Jail For Not Paying Child Support?

If you have been arrested for contempt of court, your child support order will continue while you remain in jail. You will be required to petition the court to request a decrease in your support amount based upon what you can make while in jail or prison. While this might be tough, it is very crucial that you attempt to do this. It is up to the court to figure out whether to reduce your child support due to the fact that you have been locked up, but your attorney can help advocate for this option on your behalf.

If your child support order has been decreased or suspended while you remain in jail, your release is considered a substantial and material change in circumstances. When this happens, the court needs to alter your support order. As an outcome, the quantity you pay in child support will likely increase to show your earning capability after your release from jail. Before the amount of your child support payments increases, the court will need to be asked and consent to alter the amount of child support you owe.

If you believe you may be going to jail for child support, your top priority should be to contact civil litigation lawyers in Springfield MO as soon as possible.

What Happens When You Go To Jail For Child Support

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When Does Child Support End In Missouri?

If you are ordered to pay child support, you likely know that it is required to be paid each month. However, many of our clients wonder when their child support payments will end. In Missouri, there are numerous ways that child support can end, or be ended.

Missouri Child Support Guidelines

In most cases, child support will end when the child has been emancipated, and this happens either by the child reaching the age of majority or through legal means. In the State of Missouri, emancipation is governed by statute and case law. Missouri child support laws specify that unless the situations of the child and the Court determine otherwise, child support orders end when the child passes away, marries, goes into active service in the military, becomes self-supporting, reaches eighteen (unless they fall under exceptions) or reaches the age of twenty-one. 

Self-supporting means that the custodial parent has given up the child from adult control by express or implied consent. An example of this is when the custodial parent is no longer bearing most of the child’s costs. It can likewise mean that the child has left the home and is now situated elsewhere.

Twenty-one is the age of emancipation in Missouri. Some orders can extend the date of emancipation past the child’s twenty-first birthday to the age of twenty-two, when a specific number of terms in college has been reached, or when the child receives a higher education degree. To get a clearer idea of what your options are, it’s important to examine your initial order or talk to a lawyer.

An exception to the above is when the child is physically or psychologically incapacitated from supporting his or her self, insolvent, and unmarried, the court might extend child support past the child’s eighteenth or twenty-first birthday. When this happens, some parents look for legal guardianship over their adult child. If you believe that your family may benefit from this type of arrangement, our Missouri family law firm will be happy to help you explore your options.

When Does Child Support End In Missouri

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MO Child Support Online Payment

If you are ordered to make child support payments in Missouri, there are a number of ways you can make and receive a payment, including online. 

Pay Missouri Child Support

Below is an overview of each child support payment method available to you in Missouri: 

If you receive child support, you have a few options for obtaining your payments, including:

  • Scheduling direct deposit of your payments into your checking account
  • Getting payments on a prepaid card

Not receiving full and timely child support payments might jeopardize the capability of Missouri custodial parents to properly care for their children. For noncustodial parents, it might lead to severe legal problems. 

Those who are having child support issues in Missouri might benefit from working with a lawyer. An experienced family law attorney can discuss their choices as well as help them to pursue enforcement or adjustments. If you have any questions or concerns about child support in Missouri, don’t hesitate to contact the trusted family law attorneys at Masterson Law for a free consultation.

MO Child Support Online Payment

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CONTACT SUMMER

Summer Masterson-Goethals
Consumer and family lawyer, former legal aid attorney and Missouri Bar Leadership Academy member, Springfield Business Journal 40 under 40 Honoree. Site Map

Masterson Law
3030 E. Battlefield, Suite A
Springfield, MO 65804
(417) 522-1280

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