The Determination of Child Support
Figuring the Total Cost to Raise Children
When the parties to a dissolution have children together, there’s generally an issue of child support, who pays who and how much. In Missouri, the court relies on the “Child Support Guidelines”, an established set of data ($ figures), that the legislature believes it costs to raise children. It’s the starting point in determining how much this will cost between the parents so that each parent’s percentage can then be figured out using the Form 14.
There are many reasons why a court may deviate from this established guideline figure, such as travel, extraordinary educational or medical needs, or any other reason the court may find valid. The total figure though will be proposed by the parties, and ordered by the judge involved. From this, the court will then turn to how much each party pays.
Calculating the Amount Each Parent Pays
Once the cost to raise the child or children is calculated, the court will then determine each parent’s share. This is where the Form 14 comes in. The Form 14 is a tool, a calculation actually, used to follow the existing Missouri Law. First, the trial Court must calculate the child support pursuant to the Form 14, (Missouri’s child support calculation formula) either by using and adopting one or both of the proposed Form 14’s proposed by one of the parties, or by performing its own Form 14 calculation. This mathematical calculation, and is mandatory to ensure that the child support guidelines are followed.
The judge can then determine if the Form 14 calculation is “unjust and inappropriate”. The judge will consider all various relevant factors such as extraordinary expenses for this. If the judge then decides that straying from the Form calculation is appropriate, then they can award a different division of the cost.
Completing Form 14 is an easy task, but you must be accurate. You should work with your attorney to make sure that all of your income and expenses are accounted for. The court can properly award child support only if it has that information. If you omit certain information, the judge will not have all of the information needed to make a decision that is going to affect you for years to come. Be careful about this!
O’Fallon, MO 63366