Child support is a significant issue in most divorces where children are involved, as well as in parentage actions where the parents have never been married. The general rule is that the parent who has the minor children the majority of the time is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. When the parents share custody equally, generally the party who makes more money owes child support to the other parent in order to ensure a more consistent standard of living for the minor children in each parent’s household.
In Missouri, the Supreme Court has adopted a tool for calculating child support using a form calculation called the Form 14.
There are a number of factors that are included in the Form 14 calculation, including the following: the monthly gross income of each parent, the health insurance costs of the children, the work-related childcare costs for the children, and any maintenance (alimony) paid by one of the parents to the other.
One factor that can significantly impact the amount owed by the parent paying child support is the overnight visitation credit. This credit reduces the amount owed based on the number of overnights the children stay with the paying parent over the course of a year. This ensures that parents who have significant overnight parenting time with the children get a fair credit for the expenses incurred during their parenting time.
Due to the number of factors that go into calculating a Form 14, there are often disagreements in preparing the Form 14 and in determining child support. In a contested hearing, each party may submit his or her own Form 14, and the Court might reject both and enter its own Form 14. The Court also has the ability to rebut the Form 14 as unjust and inappropriate and enter orders for child support that deviate from the Form 14. This is common in cases where the parents agree to a child support arrangement different from what is calculated on the Form 14.
Please contact one of the experienced family law attorneys in our firm to schedule a consultation on your child support questions and options.