In Missouri, the courts calculate child support using a specific method as dictated by statute and supreme court rules. The court must complete a document known as “Form 14” for every case involving child support, and each party must also complete and submit one to the court.
How Form 14 Works: Income. Form 14 begins by entering the gross monthly income of each party. Note that one party must be designated the parent receiving support and the other party the parent paying support. In general, the party with more income will be the parent paying support. After entering earned income, the Form 14 adjusts income in the following ways: (a) it subtracts any maintenance award a parent must pay and adds any maintenance award a parent receives; (b) it deducts any child support a parent must pay for other children by another parent, and adds any child support a parent receives for other children by another parent.
After the adjustments, the Form 14 totals each parent’s adjusted income, combines it and uses a chart to determine the basic child support amount. Missouri utilized a committee to prepare the presumptive chart amounts, and these amounts operate on a number of assumptions with respect to the cost of daily living expenditures, from food and housing to clothing and other intangibles. The Form 14 also determines percentages of the combined income for each parent – these percentages come into play when calculating a parent’s share of the support obligation.
How Form 14 Works: Child Care Costs. Form 14 realizes that many parents have childcare costs and that courts often order the parent paying support to also pay some or all of the childcare costs. Consequently, to avoid double counting costs, the Form 14 gives a parent paying childcare costs a credit for those amounts paid. Also, the Form 14 reduces support for the parent receiving support and the childcare tax credit, given that the parent receiving support will be able to claim this tax credit on his or her tax returns.
How Form 14 Works: Health Insurance Costs. Form 14 realizes that the court will order one parent responsible for paying the health insurance premiums for the children and deems this a form of support that should receive a credit. So, the parent paying support will have the support obligation reduced by the amount of the health insurance costs. The Form 14 also allows a deduction for agreed upon or court-ordered medical or child-rearing costs. This section is discretionary and only applies when a fixed sum will be utilized every month.
Calculating Parent’s Support Obligation. After making all necessary adjustments for childcare and health care and extraordinary fixed expenses, the court arrives at a combined child support cost by adding the basic child support amount from the income-based table and all of the additional child-rearing costs. At this point, Form 14 apportions the support obligation based on the income-shares of the parents. So, if one parent has 60% of the total income, the Form 14 multiplies the total combined support amount by 0.6 to get that parent’s support obligation.
In our next post, we will discuss how the Form 14 arrives at a final amount, including a discussion of the most recent change to Form 14 – the visitation credit.
If you have questions about Form 14, contact us – we can help.