Both parents owe a duty of support to a child, i.e. this is money for the child not the parent. A court must consider all relevant factors, including the following statutory factors per RSMo. Section 452.340, when determining one’s obligation to pay child support:
- The financial needs and resources of the child;
- The financial resources and needs of the parents;
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved;
- The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child’s educational needs;
- The child’s physical and legal custody arrangements, including the time the child spends with each parent and the reasonable expenses associated with the custody or visitation arrangements;
- The reasonable work-related child care expenses of each parent.
The Court utilizes the Form 14 and the following factors to determine the child support amount:
- Number of children
- Work -related child care
- Previous orders of child support
- Maintenance (alimony) payments made and received
- Health insurance costs for the children
- Uninsured medical costs
- Educational expenses
- Number of overnights exercised with the children at issue
Child Support is modifiable upon the finding of a change in circumstances resulting in a 20% or more change in the child support payment in either party’s favor.
Generally, the child support obligation ends when the child dies, gets married, enters active duty in the military, becomes self-supporting, or turns 18 unless the child is physically or mentally incapacitated, or the child enrolls in a program of higher education. Missouri’s child support laws differ from other states as the obligation may continue well past high school. Child support obligations generally extend until a child turns 18 years old or obtains a high school diploma, whichever happens later. At this point, if a child enrolls in “an institution of vocational or higher education” no later than October first, the child support obligation will continue to be due as long as the child remains enrolled in school and completes at least 12 hours of coursework per term, achieving passing grades in at least six hours. Once the child reaches age 21 or “completes his or her education,” whichever comes first, the child support obligation ends.