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Basic information about Missouri child support requirements

Child support was established not only for the sake of a child affected by a divorce but also for the benefit of taxpayers. When a couple decides to end their marriage and a child is involved, child support issues are likely to arise. Missouri parents currently dealing with child support issues may be interested to know some basic facts about child support, which can help determine eligibility to pay or receive child support.

A parent can be entitled to receive child support if they are the custodial parent of a child. The parent granted primary custody of the child is called the "custodial parent" and is responsible for ensuring that the child is well-fed, attending school and participating in other social activities. When both parents are determined to be fit parents, the court often determines who will be the custodial parent in divorce cases. Single-parent households do not usually require a court declaration unless the parent is unfit and a guardian must be designated.

If both parents have joint custody or both parents spend equal time with a child, one parent may still be required to pay support. If there is a disparity between parental incomes, then the higher earning parent may be required to pay support to the lower earning one. For example, if a wife earned half of what the husband earned annually during the marriage, then the husband may be required to pay the support.

Divorcing parents may create their own child support agreements if they are willing to use alternative methods, such as mediation or collaborative law. However, in contentious divorce cases, a third party, such as a family law court, may decide the case and determine the right amount of support to meet the best interests of the child. Either way, parents may consider having legal assistance to ensure that their case is handled accordingly.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Are You Eligible for Child Support?," Accessed on Sept. 4, 2014

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