Child Support Matters in St. Louis County
Parents often rely on child support payments to cover their children’s daily needs. When these payments become an issue, it can be very stressful for everyone involved.
Missouri has a set of guidelines called Form 14 that help judges figure out what each parent should pay or receive. These calculations consider gross incomes, other children supported by the non-custodial parent, insurance costs and other important factors.
Establishing Paternity or Maternity
During the 1700s, St. Louis County was part of a territory that later became the city and county seat of St. Louis. In 1877, residents of the city voted to separate from the county and become an independent city.
Unmarried fathers in Missouri must legally establish paternity before they can obtain a child support order. A man may be able to do so by signing an affidavit acknowledging paternity shortly after the birth of a child, having his name placed on the child’s birth certificate, or undergoing DNA testing with the mother and the child.
A family law advocate could explain all of a man’s legal options for establishing paternity or maternity and work toward a favorable resolution. An advisor could also assist with requesting financial assistance from an ex-partner or working to have an existing child support order modified. Our firm serves clients throughout the county of St. Louis and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a seasoned lawyer.
Making Child Support Calculations
When it comes to child support, the state outlines specific guidelines that it expects parents to follow. First, both parties must submit their gross incomes to the court. These are their earnings before taxes and deductions such as Social Security and Medicare contributions, income tax withholding, court-ordered spousal maintenance payments, and public assistance benefits.
Once the court has this information, it can calculate each parent’s weekly adjusted income. This can then be combined to set each parent’s basic child support obligation. Mandatory add-on expenses like health insurance and unreimbursed medical expenses can also be accounted for.
Raising children takes a considerable amount of money, especially when there are substantial custody issues involved. If you need help in this area, our firm could assist you. We can ensure that the calculation for child support matters in St. Louis County is fair, reasonable and accurate. This will ensure your children are well cared for when you split up. Our lawyers can also help you enforce child support payments if necessary.
Enforcing Child Support
It can cost a lot to raise children. One way to offset some of these costs is through child support payments from non-custodial parents. These payments help to cover things like education, living expenses, health care and general care of the child or children. Regardless of whether you are paying or receiving child support, it is important to keep up with these payments. Failing to do so can result in severe financial stress, wage assignments (deducting unpaid support from wages) and even criminal charges.
At a hearing, the court will review the payment history of both parties and determine how much is owed. The parent owing support may be ordered to pay in a lump sum or through a repayment plan. It is important to have evidence such as copies of canceled checks or other payment records.
The court will consider both parents’ incomes and other family factors. The new county prosecutor has proposed that a conviction for failing to pay child support be considered a civil matter instead of a felony, which can make it more difficult for someone with a felony record to find employment.
Modifying Child Support
Every parent has an obligation to support their children financially, and Missouri law sets forth a standard set of factors that can help determine how much child support should be paid. However, as time passes, financial circumstances can change and a court-ordered child support agreement may no longer be appropriate.
Parents often request a modification of their child support arrangement when either party experiences a significant financial change. The law defines a substantial change in circumstances as a 20% deviation from what was originally ordered.
Aside from a drastic change in circumstances, courts will only approve a modification of child support if both parties agree to the terms. The other issue is that a party cannot simply change the amount of child support on their own, which requires a contested court hearing. The judge will consider each parent’s spending habits and lifestyle to decide what the proper amount of child support is. The judge will also take into account any extraordinary expenses such as funeral costs or the cost of a new child.