How is child support calculated in Missouri?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Paternity/Child Support on Tuesday, October 21, 2014.

The end of a marriage which has produced children inevitably leads to many questions on the part of the divorcing couple: spousal support issues, custody and visitation rights, asset distribution, and more. One question that also needs to be addressed is how to determine who should pay child support, and how much should be paid.

The government of Missouri, through its Family Support Division, has undertaken to simplify and clarify how child support obligations are to be calculated. Much of the process of crunching the financial numbers has been streamlined into forms available online child support guidelines.

The cornerstone of child support calculations is Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet, known informally as the “Form 14.” This one-page form and its accompanying support chart breaks down into 12 general parts; the child support calculations between the parent providing support and the parent receiving it. Starting with monthly gross income, then modifying that into adjusted gross income, and after that applying various child-rearing costs to arrive at a presumed child support amount in the 12th and final part.

Form 14 and the support chart are designed to offer parents a degree of predictability and certainty in their efforts to arrive at a reasonable payment amount for child support. Another advantage is that by regularizing the child support calculation process, it reduces both the possibility of an important child expense being left out of consideration and the possibility of a circuit court judge imposing an arbitrary amount.

That being said, the child support calculation that Form 14 arrives at is preliminary. It can be subject to modifications on a case-by-case basis, and judges working in coordination with the Family Support Division have some discretion to modify the Form 14 payment amount.

Just as the Form 14 calculation is helpful but not in itself final, this post also cannot offer you all of the information that you may need to make fully-informed decisions if you are going through or contemplating a divorce. To learn more, and to gain answers to specific questions, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a family law attorney.

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