In Missouri, the courts use the "income shares model" to calculate child support payments. The income shares model is intended to ensure that a child receives the same proportion of parental income that she would have received if the parents had not divorced. The model determines child support based on how much each parent earns. According to Missouri law, the court can deviate from the income shares model under certain circumstances.
Income Shares Model
A court applies the income shares model in calculating child support by using a four-step process. First, the income of the parents is determined and added together. Second, a basic child support obligation is calculated based on the parents' combined income. Third, a presumptive child support obligation is calculated by adding expenses for work-related child care, health insurance and extraordinary medical care. Fourth, the presumptive child support obligation is prorated between each parent based on their percentage of the total income. Courts in Missouri use the Child Support Calculation Worksheet to calculate the presumptive child support obligations.
Deviation from the Income Shares Model
A Missouri court may deviate from the income shares model in determining child support if application of the model would be unjust or inappropriate. If the court does not use the model, the court will decide what amount of support is reasonable for the support of the child. In making this determination, the court will consider factors including the financial needs and resources of the child and each parent; the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended; the child's physical and emotional condition; the child’s educational needs; the child’s physical and legal custody arrangements; and work-related child care expenses of each parent. If the court does not apply the income shares model, the parents have the right to demand a written explanation as to how the court made its decision.
Termination of Child Support
Missouri law determines when child support will terminate. The obligation to pay child support ends when the child dies, marries, enters the military, becomes self-supporting, reaches age 18 or 21 if enrolled in college.
Federal law requires all child support payments to be withheld from a parent's paycheck. In Missouri, this means that once a child support order has been issued by the court, the law requires a parent’s employer to withhold these payments from her paycheck. Missouri law allows parents to waive this requirement if they reach a written agreement for an alternative payment arrangement.