According to this article, Rick Ross has reached a confidential agreement to support a child born out of wedlock to Ross and Tia Kemp. It appears the parties had returned to modify an original support order entered in 2010.
What if this case had happened in Missouri? How would it be handled?
Missouri has a two-step procedure for determining child support. First, the trial court must complete a “Form 14” – the child support worksheet established by the Missouri Supreme Court that standardizes child support throughout the state. The Form relies on a series of assumptions about the cost of housing, clothing, food and other necessities, and further structures these amounts by income. The completed Form 14 produces a presumptive child support amount that the obligated parent would have to pay. Step two in the process gives the court the opportunity to determine if the presumptive amount is just and appropriate under the circumstances; if not, the court may make specific findings as to why and enter a different amount.
Form 14 begins by computing the monthly gross income of each parent. An issue that might come up in the Rick Ross matter would be whether Tia Kemp is employed, and if so, at a suitable level. In Missouri, a parent has a duty to contribute to the support of a child by securing employment commensurate with his or her skills and education. If Tia had not been working, the court would evaluate her educational and work history and impute income to her based on that background.
Form 14 completes the monthly gross income by looking to whether either party pays or receives maintenance (which would not apply in this case because Rick and Tia never married) and child support. This latter issue would likely play a role, as Tia has children by other fathers and Rick may have children with other mothers. The sums received for child support by Tia would be considered income to her, and the sums Rick pays for child support would be considered a credit to income.
After fully calculating the gross income of each parent, Form 14 adds the incomes together and goes to the chart to determine the gross basic support amount. Form 14 works on an income shares model, so the parent paying support only pays their percent share of the gross child support amount. To reach net child support (or the presumed child support amount), the court gives credits for the parent paying child care and health insurance costs, as well as a visitation credit.
So, for Rick and Tia, completing the Form 14 would give an amount that likely varies from the sum they agreed to confidentially, because it seems that they mediated and went through expenses for Tia and what Rick felt was reasonable for support. Parties can of course do that in Missouri as well; however, they still must complete the Form 14. Wide departures through mediation would seem less likely once one party sees the Form 14 results unless real extenuating circumstances exist to depart from the Guidelines.
If you have questions about child support and Form 14, contact us – we can help.