1. How is child support calculated?
Guidelines are set out in Missouri Child Support Guidelines. The parent who pays child support is called the “obligor” or “payor”, and the parent who receives child support is called the “obligee” or “payee”.
2. How do I calculate this amount?
First, determine the payor’s gross income. Gross income includes all income from any source (before taxes and other deductions), whether earned or unearned, and includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, overtime payments, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, etc.
Second, determine the payee’s gross income in the same fashion.
Third, determine what if any credits apply or what additional expenses are to be added to the chart presumed amount.
Fourth, a pro rata calculation is made based on the parents relative incomes, including consideration of which parent pays for health care coverage, daycare, and applicable visitation credits.
3. Can a court order an employer to deduct child support from the supporting parent’s salary?
Yes. This is called a wage assignment. In Missouri, the receiving party is automatically entitled to a wage assignment, when otherwise agreed upon or if cause is shown.
4. I am worried that my former spouse will file for bankruptcy. Can my former spouse avoid paying child support?
Child support is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Check with your lawyer immediately for advice if you receive a notice of your ex-spouse’s bankruptcy filing.
5. Do I have to report my child support payments as taxable income on my federal income tax return?
No. You may, however, be able to claim the dependency exemption, child care credits and/or head of household status.
6. In Missouri, when does the obligation to pay child support end?
Generally, when the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. However, child support could end earlier if the child becomes emancipated (gets married, joins the military or in a few other specific situations). However, if your child continues with full-time school, such as college or vocational school, or if the child is disabled, obligations may continue.
7. May child support continue after a child goes to college?
Yes, but only if the parties agree, or if the child suffers from a severe medical condition or is handicapped. Otherwise, the court cannot award support past the age of majority.
8. Must the court always follow the chart for child support awards or may special circumstances, such as private school tuition, result in a greater amount?
Rule 88.01 provides for extraordinary educational, medical, or agreed upon expenses to be added to the child support obligation. The court will consider all relevant facts in consideration of a request for support above the presumed amount.
9. Can a parent avoid paying past-due child support?
No, unless a petition to modify the judgment has been filed by the debtor parent. Even then, the past-due support may only, at best, be modified retroactive to the date the petition is served on the recipient spouse.
If the past-due support is significant, see an attorney sooner rather than later because there are collection and enforcement laws available, but those tools can become unavailable over time.