Enforcement of Child Support Orders in Missouri

Explore the intricacies of enforcing child support orders in Missouri with The Carson Law Firm. Our guide covers legal processes, consequences for non-compliance, and essential resources for custodial parents.

Exploring Child Support Enforcement Procedure in Missouri

Child support is a court-ordered payment made by the noncustodial parent to support and care for a child following a divorce or legal separation. Child support amounts are determined by income, expenses, and the child support guidelines.

Failing to comply with child support orders can be for a variety of reasons. This can be due to personal choices, conflicts with the custodial parent, or circumstances beyond their control, such as job loss or income fluctuations. In situations like these, the custodial parent must understand the various options available to enforce the child support order.

When taking legal action, it’s essential to seek the guidance of competent legal counsel. Any mistakes in the process can have significant consequences for the parents and the children involved.

At The Carson Law Firm, we have extensive experience in family law, including child support enforcement cases. Our team understands the complexities of these legal proceedings and can provide the guidance and support needed throughout the enforcement process to protect your rights.

Understanding Child Support in Missouri

Child support in Missouri is the monthly financial contribution from one parent to another to cover the child’s expenses. This obligation is defined under RSMo § 452.340 and enforced by RSMo § 454.420. There are two methods to establish child support in Missouri: administrative proceedings through the State or via a Court case. 

When child support is established through the State of Missouri, custody is not involved. However, if the support is established through the Court, child custody can be considered part of the process.

In Missouri, it is considered a criminal offense for a parent to willfully withhold child support payments as mandated by the court. Criminal nonsupport can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

A misdemeanor offense may result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. However, if the outstanding balance is more than 12 consecutive monthly payments stated in a court order, it could be charged as a felony.

Determining Child Support Amounts

Child support payments are determined using the Child Support Amount Calculation Sheet, Form 14. This form plays a crucial role in establishing payment amounts, taking into account various factors:

  • The total number of children involved in the case

  • The monthly income of both parents

  • Expenses associated with child care, health insurance, and other mutually agreed-upon costs, including extraordinary medical expenses

  • The annual number of overnight visits by the noncustodial parent

Child support payments are calculated using the “income share” method in Missouri. This approach ensures that custodial and noncustodial parents contribute to the child’s upbringing. However, if parents have shared custody, a judge can modify or deviate from this method. 

The Enforcement Process

If you are having trouble receiving child support from the noncustodial parent, you can seek child support enforcement by the Missouri Family Support Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services (Missouri DSS – Child Support). The (FSD) administers the Child Support Enforcement program to assist custodial parents and their children in cases where the noncustodial parent fails to comply with court-ordered child support payments. To file a complaint and seek assistance, you can contact the FSD.

An alternative option is to file a motion in court when the noncustodial parent falls behind on payments. Once filed, the court will issue a summons to the parent responsible for making the payments. The noncustodial parent must receive proper notice of the motion at least seven days before the scheduled court date. 

A process server must personally deliver the legal papers to the noncustodial parent to ensure the notice is acknowledged. There must be more than the notice to demonstrate that the person knows the impending court date.

Typically, the judge allows the noncustodial parent multiple opportunities to pay child support before resorting to more severe measures. However, if the parent repeatedly fails to appear in court, the judge may issue a contempt order and a bench warrant. In such cases, bail may be imposed as a cash-only requirement, equivalent to the amount of child support owed.

Enforcement of Child Support Orders

The FSD has various enforcement options to collect past due child support payments, known as arrearages. These options include:

Income withholding

Wage withholding is a highly effective strategy employed by the FSD to enforce child support orders. These orders are often issued when a parent is in arrears by at least one month’s support. With wage withholding orders, employers deduct the designated support amount directly from the noncustodial parent against which an income withholding order is issued. The withheld amount may also include a penalty.

License suspensions

As stated by the Missouri Department of Social Services, parents who fail to meet their child support obligations may face the suspension of their driver’s licenses and professional licenses. This restricts their freedom of movement and hampers their ability to work and generate income.

Liens

In certain instances, the FSD has the authority to place liens on properties owned by parents with outstanding child support payments. These properties may encompass land, homes, and vehicles. Typically, these liens are released once parents have fulfilled their support obligations. As a result, they cannot transfer or sell these properties until their child support issues have been resolved.

How The Carson Law Firm Can Help

The Carson Law Firm is dedicated to assisting Missouri families in navigating complex divorce and child support matters. With over thirty years of experience, our skilled attorneys possess extensive experience in Missouri family law and child support litigation. We have a profound understanding of the intricate legal procedures that must be meticulously followed to safeguard our clients’ rights and interests.

Our family law attorneys are available to meticulously evaluate your situation and provide valuable guidance on the best course of action tailored to your specific circumstances. Additionally, we can offer support in preparing and submitting necessary legal motions and skillfully represent you in court to safeguard your rights as a custodial parent.

We understand that navigating the child support system can be challenging. But don’t worry! Our experienced family law attorney is here to help. We can help you obtain child support orders and enforce them. You can also explore spousal support options in St. Louis with us if the need arises.

Take the First Step Towards Ensuring Your Child’s Financial Security

Ensuring your child’s financial security is an essential step in creating a stable and nurturing environment for their growth and success. Understanding and enforcing child support orders in Missouri are pivotal aspects of this process. 

At The Carson Law Firm, we’re here to be your dedicated advocates. We’ll provide unwavering support and legal guidance to protect your child’s best interests. Whether it’s navigating child support orders, enforcing them, or offering insights on parental kidnapping and the right legal responses, our goal is to deliver comprehensive and compassionate solutions that meet your specific needs.

Take action now to secure your child’s future. Contact us today, and let’s begin the journey towards ensuring your child’s financial security and lasting happiness.

Contact Us About Your Case