Creve Coeur & O'Fallon, MO Child Support Attorneys
Child support should be simple and not controversial. If it were, however, we would not see endless stories about “deadbeat” parents who risk criminal charges by choosing not to pay child support or the less publicized but at least as common stories of parents with such burdensome duties of support they constantly feel a day away from financial disaster.
The reality is that separate households create financial difficulties and children should have parents who both can sustain the financial demands of creating healthy environments. But recognizing the difficulty of funding two different households does not stop individuals from trying to “game” the system, whether by hiding assets, pursuing a path of underemployment, claiming an inability to work or making unreasonable requests for monthly expenses.
Trying to evade financial obligations to your children can result in findings of contempt or felony prosecution for nonsupport. And choosing to provide false statements about the actual financial needs of the children or hiding assets can also lead to findings of contempt or even prosecution.
Dealing honestly about your finances and your financial situation and those of your children is always the best policy, and the foundation of the calculation of child support in Missouri.
Parents have a legal obligation to support their children. In Missouri, the state Supreme Court has devoted many hours to structuring child support based upon the combined incomes of the parties and the associated household expenses based on the income level and the number of children. The court must complete what is called a Form 14, a worksheet that takes the gross monthly incomes of each parent to arrive at a presumed child support amount. The court uses the relative incomes of the parties to determine who shall pay support to the other parent and in what share. The court will also make adjustments for health insurance, child care and visitation credits before reaching a final support amount. If the court feels the amount is inappropriate, it may depart from the presumed child support amount, but it must state its reasons for doing so in the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage.
While child support may seem somewhat mechanical, determining the numbers that go into the chart can be challenging, especially if one parent is self-employed or has been unemployed and the court must impute income to that parent because both parents have a duty to become gainfully employed and provide support for the minor child. Also, parties may disagree about the reasonable amount of child care or health care expense. In all disputed cases, parties will need to introduce evidence to support their claims regarding income and the child care and health care expenses.
The court must ultimately look to a variety of factors in making an appropriate child support award, including the financial needs and resources of the child and the parents, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents stayed together, the physical and emotional condition of the child and the child’s educational needs, the custodial arrangements for the child, and the reasonable work related child care expenses of each parent.
As you can see from the issues to resolve, the process is not just a short set of simple, self-executing rules, but involves many complex and often difficult questions of proof. Only a skilled and experienced family law attorney can properly advise you as to your rights with regard to child support, and protect those rights in a legal proceeding.
At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., we have over fifty years of combined experience handling family law matters. We help individuals understand their rights with regard to all issues, including child support. We do all required discovery, draft marital settlement agreements and try your case before the judge if we cannot reach a settlement. We have handled hundreds of trials before family court judges; if you choose The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., you will have the benefit of a family law attorney unafraid to go to court, advocate on your behalf and fully present your case.
Time to Act
Time is of the essence. As soon as you select The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. to represent you, we will immediately put our considerable experience and resources to work on your case. The sooner we can review the necessary information, the sooner we can formulate a strategy for your unique circumstances, helping to ensure the best possible outcome.
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