If you are going through a divorce, child custody matter, or child support case, you may find yourself wondering if you will receive child support. You may wonder if you will have to pay child support. Most importantly, whether you are concerned that you may need to pay or if you will receive child support, you are likely questioning what amount you should expect to pay or receive.
In Missouri, child support calculations are governed by law. Much of Missouri's child support laws are contained in Section 452.340 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. This section explains that there are several factors that the court should take into consideration when determining whether to order a party to pay child support and how much should be ordered. These factors include (1) the financial needs and resources of the child; (2) the financial resources and needs of the parents; (3) the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved; (4) the physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child's educational needs; (5) the child's physical and legal custody arrangements, including the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the reasonable expenses associated with the custody or visitation arrangements; and (6) the reasonable work-related child care expenses of each parent. However, additional factors and our courts' interpretation of these laws are relevant as well.
While Missouri law determines the factors that courts consider when determining whether to order child support payments and how much is to be paid, the process for calculating child support is set forth by the state Supreme Court and the rules for doing so are periodically amended. The Court publishes instructions for calculating child support, and the calculation is made based on the Court's child support form called the “Form 14.”
The benefit of a standardized calculation is that it can help simplify the child support determination. However, even with a uniform method of calculating child support, there are many questions that can complicate the child support calculation. Some examples include: is either party capable of earning more income? Is a party under-stating or over-stating their income? Who pays for the child(ren)'s medical insurance? Are there expenses related to childcare? How much time do(es) the child(ren) spend with each parent? These are just some of the factors that can affect a child support determination. Even when these questions are answered and the calculation is made, the court may use its discretion to order a different amount depending on the circumstances.
Calculating a fair and appropriate child support amount in a divorce, custody, or support proceeding can be a difficult task. An experienced family law attorney can help make this process less daunting. The attorneys at Ahearn Kershman can assist you with navigating this complicated process and will advocate for you to ensure that your voice is heard. If you have questions about a divorce, child custody, or child support matter, call us at 314-373-7135.