In Missouri, the Missouri Department of Social Services Family Support Division (FSD) oversees administration of child support. Child support guidelines, as required by federal law, are outlined in section 452-340 of the Missouri Revised Statues.
Applying for Child Support
Parents or guardians of minor children can start the child support process in multiple ways:
- Child support orders are included in divorce and custodial agreements
- Parents or guardians can hire an attorney to initiate a support order
- Parents can apply for a support order through FSD
Missouri's child support calculations are based on multiple factors, which are outlined on the Child Support Calculation worksheet. Before you begin calculating, you should gather all pertinent financial data. Factors taken into consideration include:
- Number of children
- Adjusted monthly income of both parents
- Work-related childcare
- Court-ordered or extraordinary health care costs
- Percentage of time child spends with non-custodial parent in overnight visitation.
To calculate child support, the courts:
- Determine a basic overall support amount based on the combined income of both parties.
- Determine the support obligation for each parent by calculating his or her percentage of overall income. (For example, if both parents made the same amount, each parent's responsibility for the overall amount of child support would be 50 percent.)
- Calculate additional costs, including work-related childcare for the custodial parent, health insurance payments of each parent, and extraordinary or uncovered health care costs.
- Add the additional costs to the basic support amount.
- Apply each parent's obligation percentage to the overall amount of support to determine the support obligation.
- Credit the payer for any work-related childcare, educational, or health care expenses he or she pays.
- Discount the payer's obligation by a certain percentage based on the number of overnight visitations.
To get a rough estimate of how this works and to calculate potential child support, you can plug numbers into this Missouri Child Support Calculator.
Obtaining a Court Order
Your attorney or FSD will file the necessary documents to obtain court-ordered child support. If both parties reach an agreement, you may not have to appear in court. However, if parties do not agree on child support owed, you will need to go to court at a pre-appointed date and time to talk with the judge. At this point, the judge will determine the support amount and issue a court order.
Paying or Receiving Support
Parents can arrange for payment and distribution of support payments via FDS. Payment options include:
- Automatic withdrawal from paychecks
- Online payments
- Check or money order
Distribution options to the payee include:
- Direct deposit
- Prepaid MasterCard debit card
Modification of an Existing Order
In some cases, parents can receive a modification of the existing order through FDS. The agency will only review orders every three years on request by either parent. Modifications to existing orders may be made if:
- The existing support order changes by 20 percent or more
- Health insurance changes occur
Parents may request modification reviews for any reason every three years.
Support After Age 18
A non-custodial parent may be obligated to pay support when the child is aged 18 to 21 in certain circumstances; however, the custodial parent must petition the court for continuing support. These circumstances include:
- The child is still enrolled in and attending high school after his or her 18th birthday.
- The child is enrolled as a full-time (12 credit hours or more) student in college or a vocational school.
In these cases, the child must supply transcripts to prove he or she is attending school.
Costs of Child Rearing
It costs money to raise a child, and each parent is obligated to support his or her child, regardless of the relationship with the other parent. Whether you have physical custody of your child or are the non-custodial parent, you must provide financial support. Contact FDS or an attorney so you can ensure your child receives the necessary financial support to thrive.