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Everything You Need to Know About Missouri Child Support Laws

Child support laws can be confusing and depending on your situation, very frustrating. This guide provides clear-cut, simple to understand information on many common situations and laws in Missouri.

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

Child support laws can be confusing and depending on your situation, very frustrating. Speaking with an experienced attorney can be the key to a successful outcome. Alimony, payments, custody agreements and everything else is likely new territory for you, but it’s something our firm deals with every day. Let us help you navigate the system and get the best results possible for your future. 

Basics of Child Support Laws in Missouri

Child support is a payment one parent makes to another after a divorce. Child support payments are meant to cover the expenses of raising a child or children they have together.

Determining a monthly payment is complicated and no two cases are alike. Missouri has a Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations they use to calculate child support payments based on the parent’s income (i.e. salary, annuities, social security, unemployment, and so on).

According to statista.com, the average child support in Missouri in 2017 that was paid by noncustodial parents to custodial parents was $3,431, which is less than $300 per month.

The lowest child support payment is $50 per month and for each additional $50 the parent earns, the payment increases. For each additional child, the payment will increase as well. For more information, visit our practice areas page or learn about Divorce Cost in Missouri.


Child Support Guidelines

Child support guidelines are a fee schedule. However, parents don’t have to follow the guidelines and can agree to more than the suggested amount.

Sometimes, the guidelines suggest a child support amount that can be seen as unjust. If that occurs, the court has a right to adjust the child support amount. Extraordinary medical or educational expenses, as well as travel costs if parents live too far apart, are just some of the reasons that courts may deviate from the Missouri child support guidelines.

Child support is covered under Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 452 and enforced by Chapter 454. Here is a brief look at important information regarding this.


Who is responsible?

Both parents are responsible for supporting the child’s needs. However, usually, the parent who spends less time with the child or children has to make the child support payments, because it’s assumed that the parent who spends more time with the child already spends the money on his or her needs and therefore should receive child support.

If the parents of the child aren’t married, the first step is determining the father of a child or children. If a father’s name is on the birth certificate, it’s presumed that paternity has been established. But, a judge can also order a DNA test, in case a father disputes paternity.


How is it calculated?

Using the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations and the parent’s gross income.


What expenses might a parent be required to pay?

Child support is for food, housing, clothing, transportation, and health care. Sometimes, the non-custodial parent will be required to pay for daycare, extracurricular activities, and private school expenses.


How long is a parent required to pay?

In MO, it is paid until the child reaches the age of eighteen. But, there are certain exceptions. It can continue until the child graduates high school, reaches the age of twenty-one, graduates from college or attends college less than full-time, enters active military duty, becomes self-supporting, or marries.

How to File for Child Support in Missouri

Child support in the State of Missouri is under the control of the Missouri Department of Social Services, Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. If you want to apply for child support services, complete the appropriate application, visit your local CSE office or call the information line at 1-800-859-7999.

A child support request can be made during legal separation or divorce proceedings, as well as during child custody proceedings. You have to file documents with the Missouri Circuit Court in the county where your former spouse or you live. You can also request child support modification, if needed due to a change in circumstances, by filing the right motion with the court.

However, if your spouse refuses to pay child support until your divorce is final or you can’t agree on the amount that should be paid, the court will determine a temporary child support order.

Missouri Child Support Laws

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How Is MO Child Support Payment Made?

Why Are Child Support Payments Made in the First Place?

It is assumed that the custodial parent, or the one who cares for the child most of the time, already spends money on the child. So, the non-custodial parent will provide supplemental support for the child and the custodial parent will receive the payments.

Payment is based on Form No. 14 Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet. It looks at the individual income of each parent as well as their combined income, if the parent is already paying support for another child, and the number of children each has legal custody of that resides in their home.

Once the form is completed, the custodial parent will receive an estimated payment that can be increased or decreased by the court. No payments will be made until an order is issued by a judge. In certain circumstances like a job loss, a judge can adjust the child support payment.

How do I make my payments?

If you pay child support, you may mail payments (check or money order) to the Family Support Payment Center. Also, payments can be made online or automatically withdrawn from a checking or savings account.


How do I get my payments?

Custodial parents may receive payments through:

  • Direct payment from the non-custodial parent.
  • Payment made to the Family Support Payment Center so there is a record of payments in case that information is necessary for court.
  • Wage withholding on the parent’s paycheck.

Parents can choose what works best for them and are encouraged to get advice from an experienced family law attorney.

Missouri Child Support Payment

The Child Support Process Can Be Hard.

You don’t have to go through it alone. We’re here to help! Call Masterson Lawyers about your divorce in MO today.

What Is Missouri’s Child Support Calculator?

There are many factors that are taken into account when calculating child support payments Missouri. The Missouri Courts provide a child support calculator you can use to estimate the amount of child support owed to you or the other parent. If you take a brief look at the guidelines you may get an idea of how much child support would be. However, there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration in order to get a more accurate amount.

Child support calculations depend on the following factors:

  • The income of the parties.
  • The number of children they have.
  • The number of overnight stays the child has with the non-custodial parent.
  • Other costs paid for by the non-custodial parent, like daycare and health insurance.

Form No. 14 establishes a “presumed amount of child support” and the judge determines if the amount is reasonable based on the parties’ circumstances and may adjust it accordingly.

Factors to Think About for an Accurate Child Support Calculation

The three factors that go into calculating an accurate calculation are income, basic child support amount, and additional child-rearing costs. Once child support orders are issued, it can only be adjusted when circumstances would cause the support to increase or decrease by 20%.

Stay up-to-date with information from the Masterson Law website, as we continue to publish helpful insights about divorce.


How are Child Support Payments Missouri Calculated?

Child support is calculated using the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations and the parent’s gross income. Gross income usually includes wages, salaries, commissions, tips, as well as retirement and pension plans. In case a non-custodial parent is not employed, other incomes are taken into consideration, such as social security benefits, unemployment compensation, and prizes like lottery winnings. 

In addition, if a parent refuses to work to avoid paying child support, the court can impute income or establish an amount a parent should be making based on her or his work history, experience, and education, and use that amount to determine child support. 

The MO child support calculator is actually a Form No. 14, which has to be filled with other information besides parents’ incomes, including percent of custody, child-raising expenses, and other information. 

Missouri Child Support Calculator

Using a Child Support Calculator Can Be Confusing.

Save the headaches and let our team of experts help you. From a small advisory role to your ally along the way, we’re here to help in your time of need.

Child Support Missouri Modification

In the event the financial status of one or both parents changes due to job change or loss, lottery winnings, or remarriage, the original order can be modified. However, if one parent loses a job that doesn’t mean the obligation to pay child support goes away. If that occurs, the court can review the situation and evaluate if the child support payments should be modified. The judge can also determine the earning capacity of that parent, not just his or her lost wages.  


How to Determine If Your Child Support Order Can Be Modified

State of Missouri child support laws can be found in statutes Section 452.730 and Section 452.340. The factors that go into determining if a child support order should be modified are:

  • The child’s financial needs.
  • The parents’ resources and the non-custodial parent’s needs.
  • The standard of living the child would have if the parents’ marriage had not dissolved.
  • The physical and emotional needs of the child.
  • The child’s educational needs.
  • Physical custody and legal custody arrangements.
  • The childcare expenses of each parent.

If the application of these factors would result in a 20% or more change in child support payments, that would be enough to initiate modification of child support orders. When this occurs, it’s best to reach out to your family law attorney as soon as possible. 

If you are going through divorce or child custody discussions, contact an attorney to help you determine how a child support order may work in your situation.

Missouri Child Support Modification

Have an Attorney do the Child Support Modification For You.

One of the most compelling benefits of hiring a lawyer like Summer Masterson-Goethals is that they will take care of all hassle of paperwork and filing on your behalf. They’ve done this before many times and know how the system works.

MO Child Support Enforcement Payments

If a custodial parent is not receiving child support payment, she or he can request that it be deducted from the other parent’s paycheck or initiate income withholding by filing a Federal Income Withholding Order. 

The MO Department of Social Services handles child support related issues through Child Support Enforcement (CSE). They can enforce orders by withholding income, reporting delinquent payors to the credit bureau, intercepting tax refunds, placing liens on personal property, and requesting Contempt of Court or criminal Non-Support charges be brought up against the non-custodial parent. If you have questions about the status of a child support payment, the CSE website has a portal where you can confirm payment status.

Common Questions/Answers Around Child Support Enforcement

Can I have payments automatically withdrawn from my bank account if I am under an Income Withholding Order?

  • Yes. Your Income Withholding Order status will remain, though.

How long will it take CSE to receive my payment once it is withdrawn from my account?

  • You will receive a payment confirmation email the same day.

What happens after I register an account and establish a payment schedule?

  • Your bank account information must be verified. Once it’s verified, your payments will be withdrawn as scheduled. If the verification is unsuccessful, you will receive an email and no payment will be processed.

What if I don’t have sufficient funds to cover a child support payment?

  • You must cancel your scheduled payment at least two days prior to withdrawal.
Missouri Child Support Enforcement

Your Questions about Child Support Laws Answered.

Masterson Law is a consumer and family law firm in Springfield with years of experience successfully helping individuals make their way through divorces.

Child support agreements can be completed without the help of an attorney, but there are numerous benefits to consulting with one during your agreements are finalized. Attorneys have done it all before and can expedite all part of the process to get you on to your next phase of life as soon as possible.

State of Missouri Child Support Laws for College Students

Child support ends when the child support order is terminated by the court or the FSD. In special cases, such as if the child is disabled or a full-time college student, support may be required past the age of eighteen.


Legal Steps After a Child Turns 18

The FSD will send the custodial parent a Notice of Intent to Stop Collection of Current Support (CS-697) ninety days before the child’s eighteenth birthday. If the child meets requirements to receive support after they turn eighteen, such as enrollment in higher education, the custodial parent must return the CS–697 form.

If it is not returned, FSD stops collection of current suport for the child on their eighteenth birthday. However, the non-custodial parent may still be obligated to pay support in some circumstances. A child support obligation may only be terminated by order, an Affidavit for Termination of Child Support, or the child turning twenty-one years old.

An experienced attorney can offer assistance with any of these forms or documents and help with any other child support related questions.

missouri child support laws for college students

Understand Child Support Laws.

Masterson Law in Springfield is a legal practice covering all of Southwest MO. The firm provides families and individuals with high-quality representation at a reasonable rate and is known for its responsive, client-centered approach.

Summer Masterson-Goethals is an academically published writer for the MO Bar, a Springfield Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 winner, continuing education speaker and can help you with your divorce.