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In most cases the parents are awarded joint legal and joint physical custody. One parent’s home is designated as the child’s address for mailing and educational purposes, and the other parent will receive periods of parenting time (visitation) with the child pursuant to the parenting plan that the parties have agreed to, or in some cases, that the Court has put in place. All though not absolute, the party having visitation will many times be the one paying child support. While it is hard to talk about support and custody separately, the Courts have consistently ruled that the two are separate, and either party’s failure to comply with the parenting plan does not effect a parent’s obligation to pay support.
Child Custody Factors to Consider
In awarding custody Missouri courts may consider all relevant factors, but must consider eight (8) specific factors as set form in the Missouri Revised Statutes 452.375. Those factors are:
(1) The wishes of the child's parents as to custody and the proposed parenting plan submitted by both parties;
(2) The needs of the child for a frequent, continuing and meaningful relationship with both parents and the ability and willingness of parents to actively perform their functions as mother and father for the needs of the child;
(3) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
(4) Which parent is more likely to allow the child frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent;
(5) The child's adjustment to the child's home, school, and community;
(6) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse of any individuals involved. If the court finds that a pattern of domestic violence as defined in section 455.010 has occurred, and, if the court also finds that awarding custody to the abusive parent is in the best interest of the child, then the court shall enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Custody and visitation rights shall be ordered in a manner that best protects the child and any other child or children for whom the parent has custodial or visitation rights, and the parent or other family or household member who is the victim of domestic violence from any further harm;
(7) The intention of either parent to relocate the principal residence of the child; and
(8) The wishes of a child as to the child's custodian. The fact that a parent sends his or her child or children to a home school, as defined in section 167.031, shall not be the sole factor that a court considers in determining custody of such child or children.
SPRINGFIELD MISSOURI CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEY
Missouri child support is calculated in every case involving minor children, although it is not necessarily awarded in every case. The calculation used is identified as the Missouri Form 14. Missouri Form 14 calculations are complex forms that take into consideration hundreds of factors that may affect the outcome of the calculation significantly.
Under Missouri Law, each parent shall contribute financial support to their children. Many times that support is in the form of food, shelter, clothing, etc…, but when parents are no longer living together the support line becomes gray and in most cases the court will conclude that child support is payable, typically from the parent with visitation (often times referred to as the non-custodial parent) to the parent whose address is used for mailing and educational purposes (often time referred to as the custodial parent).
The amount of child support is determined considering several factors, as set forth in Missouri Revised statutes 352.340, which include:
(1) The financial needs and resources of the child
(2) The financial resources and needs of the parents, individually and relative to each other
(3) The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents not divorced. (Does not apply in legal separations or where the parents where never married)
(4) The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child’s educational needs
(5) The child’s physical and legal custody arrangements, including the amount of time the child spends with each parent and the expenses associated with the custody and visitation arrangements
(6) The work-related child care expenses of each parent
Child support is based off a basic costs chart that is updated every five years. This chart identifies and considers basic cost of living elements such as: food, clothing, shelter, pre-college education expenses (assuming public school enrollment), normal uninsured medical costs, such as over-the counter medications, etc… The chart then identifies a combined support number based on the combined gross income of the parents. Child-rearing costs are assumed to increase as the parents’ incomes increase, and child-rearing costs are shown for one to six children.
The Form 14 apportions each parent’s monthly income in proportion to the combined income of both parents. This is sometimes modified by support payments or obligations for children not subject to the proceeding, among other things. The basic child support obligation, derived from the combined income, is inputted into Missouri’s “Form 14”. The Form 14 then adds work-related child care costs, health insurance expense, uninsured medical expenses and any extraordinary child rearing costs to arrive at a total combined child care cost. This proportion of total parental income attributable to each parent is then multiplied against the total child-rearing expense identified in the Form 14 to arrive at each parent’s child support obligation. This amount may be reduced by an adjustment that accounts for the actual time the child in question spends with the parent paying support. In addition, the parent paying support also receives credit for the amounts they spend on work-related child care expense, the child’s health insurance, uninsured medical expense, and any extraordinary child rearing costs over and above what is included in the basic support obligation.
However this is not the end. Child support may be challenged by either parent as either being too much, or too little. If a parent can prove that the actual expenses of raising the child in question are either more or less than what is estimated by the Form 14, then the Court may deviate from the presumed amount and enter a support amount more appropriate under the circumstances. This is what is sometimes called as “rebutted”. The legal standard applied to this challenge is whether the support amount is unjust or inappropriate when considering the six factors listed in Missouri Revised statutes 352.340.
If you feel overwhelmed you are not alone. Child support calculations are often times referred to as standard or black and white, but they are anything but that. Make sure to speak to your attorney about what details could alter support.
Harris Law offers a free consultation to learn more about your situation. Call Harris Law today to learn more.