Child Support Laws in Missouri

By Abby Lane

Children in Missouri are entitled to financial support from both parents even if the parents are divorced or were never married. In Missouri, parents who do not have full physical custody of their children will generally owe some child support to the custodial parent — custody and child support go hand in hand. It is important to know and understand exactly the terms of your child support order because failure to comply can result in stiff penalties, including jail time for contempt of court.

Children in Missouri are entitled to financial support from both parents even if the parents are divorced or were never married. In Missouri, parents who do not have full physical custody of their children will generally owe some child support to the custodial parent — custody and child support go hand in hand. It is important to know and understand exactly the terms of your child support order because failure to comply can result in stiff penalties, including jail time for contempt of court.

Court or Administrative Order

In Missouri, a parent does not legally owe child support, nor is the other parent entitled to receive child support, without an order issued by a court or administrative agency. Child support orders in Missouri are generally issued as part of divorce or separation cases, but support can also be issued if the state sues the noncustodial parent for child support on behalf of the custodial parent. In cases where the parents of the child were never married, the court case where child support is sought is called a paternity action. In Missouri, the Social Services Family Support Division – Child Support Enforcement, or FSD-CSE, also has the power to issue child support orders.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Factors to Consider

In Missouri, the court or the FSD-CSE will consider a number of factors in determining the child support award. These include, but are not limited to: the financial needs and resources of the child; the financial needs and resources of the parents; the standard of living the child is accustomed to; the particular physical custody arrangement; and the custodial parents work-related child care expenses.

Temporary Child Support

Even if your divorce is not final, if you and the child's other parent are not residing together, and you are caring for the children 50 percent or more of the time, you may be entitled to temporary child support from the other parent under Missouri law. Child support orders that last until the end of the divorce proceedings are called temporary orders, and you or your lawyer can ask the judge for a temporary order any time after your divorce complaint or petition is filed.

Change or Termination

Only the court or the FSD-CSE can terminate or modify a lawful child support order. This means that even if you and your child’s other parent come to an agreement regarding child support that is different from the existing order, you cannot change the child support terms without the approval of the court or FSD-CSE. To legally change an existing child support order you must petition the court that initially issued the, or formally request a change from the FSD-CSE.

Visitation

In general, visitation will not affect your child support award in Missouri. For example, a parent who fails to exercise visitation with his or her child will not be ordered to pay more child support. Conversely, a parent who is behind on child support payments generally cannot be denied visitation with his or her child by the custodial parent solely because the parent is delinquent on child support payments.

Obligation

In Missouri, the child support order generally does not terminate until the child is 18 to 22 years old, depending on whether the child attends a school of higher education. A child support obligation may also expire when the child gets married, becomes self-supporting or joins the armed forces.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Can You Waive Future Child Support?

References

Related articles

How to Get Temporary Custody of a Child Who's Moved Out

Temporary custody of a minor child may be awarded to a parent or a third party if the parent or guardian with whom the child resides is endangering his well-being. Temporary child custody laws vary somewhat from one state to another, but they are all based on the same principle – the best interests of the child.

Child Support Help for Men

If you are presently not living with the mother of your children, you may be dealing with child support issues. If you are having difficulty meeting your financial child support obligations or you have other problems concerning child support, help is available. Fathers' rights organizations, state local agencies and even the federal government provide resources to help fathers resolve their child support issues.

What Happens if You Disobey a Court Child Custody Order?

Whether the court has entered a permanent or temporary child custody order, parents are legally obligated to comply with all orders a judge signs. The exact penalties for disobeying a child custody order vary from state to state, but the consequences can include criminal charges, monetary fines and permanent loss of custody or visitation.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Missouri Statutes on Divorce & Child Support

In Missouri, the courts use the "income shares model" to calculate child support payments. The income shares ...

Penalties for Child Support Arrears in California

Falling behind in child support payments under a divorce order can lead to the initiation of enforcement proceedings ...

Emergency Visitation Rights

In extreme situations, a judge may be able to issue an emergency visitation order on an ex parte basis. This means that ...

Oregon Unpaid Child Support Penalties

Providing for a child's needs can be especially challenging for a single parent, especially when the parent isn't ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED