In a divorce, once the child custody and child support amount is finalized, certain terms of these orders may be formally presented in court for a modification. Either parent can ask the court to change the order. Alternatively, both parents can also enter into an agreement to modify the order.
Modification of the child support amount is often a demanding process with tremendous paperwork and documentation involved. This may require the legal guidance and services of experienced St. Louis child support lawyers.
Let’s try to understand more about what it means to modify a child support order.
What Is Child Support in St. Louis, Missouri?
All parents are required to support their children financially. After the dissolution of a marriage, the judge issues a child support order that directs one parent to pay a fixed amount of money to the other for raising the children. That being said, both parents have the ongoing duty of supporting their children.
Missouri law has established certain child support guidelines to help calculate child support amounts. However, the final amount varies from case to case and is based on a parent’s gross earnings, including their salary, bonuses, commissions, social security benefits, royalties, capital gains, and more.
In some cases, the court may ask a parent to pay more or less child support than suggested by the guidelines. Further, the judge checks whether or not the deviation is appropriate by evaluating the parents’ financial needs and resources, the child’s needs, and child care expenses. For instance, the judge may increase the support amount if the child has special needs or medical requirements. Typically, the support will continue until the child turns 18 or until the judge modifies it.
Child Support Modifications
In Missouri, child support orders can be modified if certain requirements are met. Missouri courts can grant child custody modifications when parents can show that the changes are necessary and in the best interests of the child.
For this, the parent must prove that circumstances have changed since the original order was awarded. The parent also has to prove that the original order does not support the best interest of the child under the new circumstances.
Factors that may call for the modification of child support include, but aren’t limited to:
- There may be a 20% change, through a Form 14 recalculation, from the existing child support amount
- Changes in the financial condition of the parents
- Financial needs and resources of the parents
- Financial needs of the children
- Increasing needs of growing children
- Marriage/Remarriage of a parent
For example, a modification of child support may be needed if the non-custodial parent remarries and has more children. This parent may ask the court to decrease their child support obligation to one child to increase support for other children. Similarly, the custodial parent might need additional child support to help with the costs associated with the increasing needs of growing children.
How to Modify Child Support in St. Louis
As mentioned, child support orders in Missouri are always modifiable. To make it happen, it needs to be proved that there has been a considerable change in circumstances; and the change is substantial enough and ongoing to make the terms of the original order irrational.
As per Missouri law, changing the child support amount you are currently paying or receiving entails modifying your existing parenting plan. If the other parent disagrees with your request to modify the amount, you both will need to attend a court hearing. To improve your chances of getting a positive outcome, you can take certain steps.
You should call the court clerk before going for the hearing to ensure that the other parent is aware of the hearing. You can also ascertain whether or not you have duly filed all the necessary legal paperwork.
Next, you should make sure that you are equipped with all the documentation that reflect the pertinent expenses, and all other papers you may require to support your arguments.
Make sure you are familiar with the specifics of your case. This will help you present relevant, well-informed, and powerful arguments when arguing your side.
Make sure all your witnesses are ready by your side to support your cause. All of you should be dressed appropriately. Business casual is a safe code to follow when dressing for a court visit.
Try and arrive at the court early so you have ample time to make it through the security procedures and prepare yourself for the hearing. Exercise courtesy when dealing with everyone you meet.
In Missouri, modification cases tend to be the most complicated types of family law cases. Careful planning is of the utmost importance when filing a modification case. It is best to consult experienced St. Louis child support lawyers if you are considering seeking modification of your child support decree.
Temporary or Permanent Child Support Modification?
Depending on the circumstances of the case, modifications can be either permanent or temporary.
As the name suggests, temporary modification of child support is granted in temporary situations such as a child’s or a parent’s medical emergency, or short-term loss of employment of one parent. A temporary modification can also be associated with a temporary change in child custody where one parent is in the hospital for a prolonged duration.
A permanent modification of child support is granted when one parent’s situation changes for good. For example, if one parent remarries, it would mean an increase in their familial responsibilities, which in turn, could lead to them seeking a decrease in the monthly child support payments to the ex-spouse.
Other examples that can result in the permanent modification of child support order could be changes in Missouri state family laws (with regards to child support), permanent disability of one parent, changes in the needs of the child, and change in the employment status of one parent.
Either parent can ask the court to modify child support when there has been a substantial change in their circumstances. This can include an adjustment to either parent’s lifestyle, living arrangements, finances, or earning capacity. As you can see, several factors go into asking for a modification, and understanding the legalities involved is not easy. Depending on your unique case facts, a skilled St. Louis child support attorney may be able to guide you through the maze and represent you in the best manner possible.
Our St. Louis Child Support Lawyers Can Bring You Favorable Outcomes
Our experienced St. Louis child support attorneys will work diligently to get you positive results while keeping your child’s best interests at heart. Call us at (314) 725-4000 for a free consultation. You can also contact us via our website with your queries and comments. We will revert as soon as possible.