Child support remains an issue of great importance many residents of Missouri and their children. After a divorce or when unmarried parents separate, the custodial parent may be entitled to child support payments from the other parent. The purpose of child support payments is to ensure there are adequate funds to cover the expenses the custodial parent incurs as a result of their having the child or children most of the time.
Unsurprisingly, this payment can be a contentious issue between parents. The amount of child support is determined by a statutory guideline. This number serves as a floor for the payments, and parents can pay more voluntarily. Departures below this amount must first be approved by the court after careful consideration of a variety of factors.
Once the child support obligation is approved by the court, it is very important that if you are obligated to make these payments, that you do not fall behind. Arrearages on child support payments can grow rapidly. It can be difficult to pay down the arrearages and they are one debt that is not dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Child support payments, unlike a property settlement, can be modified by a Missouri family law court, but this process is complex and a court will grant a modification of a child support order only “upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable.”
Some may believe that a job loss would qualify as a “changed circumstances so substantial.” But the important word in the quote is “continuing,” as the court will presume that even if you lost a job, you will find a new job and a replacement for that lost income.
In our next post, we will look at why this process is so complex.