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How do Missouri courts determine child support?

When Missourians are in the process of a divorce and are expecting to be paying or receiving child support payments, they may want to consider and be aware of how child support payments are determined. The first thing the courts consider is the type of custody involved, as the amount will be different if one parent has sole custody or if the parents share joint custody.

Although child support payments are ultimately made on a state level, the Child Support Enforcement Act has federal guidelines in place as well. Factors that go into the decision making process include the specific financial needs of the child, such as insurance, education, day care and any special needs that the child may require.

The courts also look at the income of both parties and the needs associated with the custodial parent. In addition, Missouri courts consider the child's standard of living prior to the separation or divorce. This often means that detailed finances are shared with the courts to best make these determinations.

Courts may also consider what a child support payer is capable of earning, not just their current income. This means that if a non-custodial parent were to quit their job and go back to school, he or she may still be liable for child support payments based on what the payer could be earning in income. The courts primary focus is on the child's best interest and makes each decision based on that philosophy.

The child support process is complex. No matter which side of the child support payment a parent is on, it may be in their best interest to seek advice from a legal professional. One that is familiar with family law can help make certain that the calculations of support are made fairly and obligations are clear to all parties involved.

Source: FindLaw.com, "How is Child Support Calculated?." accessed on March 22, 2016

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