If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is understandable if you have questions about what child support is used for in Missouri. Whether you are a custodial parent seeking help or you are facing a request for financial support from the other parent, understanding the system is important.
Child support can be used for different things so long as the money is used for the basic needs of the child. This broad approach allows parents to use these funds in a way that benefits the minor child, but it can also lead to disputes over how the money is spent.
If you are involved in a custody dispute, you could benefit from discussing your child support rights and obligations with a seasoned attorney. Reach out to the J. Rench law Firm, LLC right away to learn more.
What Can Child Support Be Used For in Missouri?
There is a wide range of necessary expenses that the custodial parent could spend child support on. These include some of the obvious expenses related to supporting a child, including the cost of their food, clothing and housing. Parents are also required to provide for the healthcare of their children, which can be complicated depending on which parent has the best option for employer-based health insurance. The cost of transporting a child to and from school is another common use for children support funds.
There are other things a non-custodial parent could pay for with their monthly child care payments. If the child is enrolled in daycare due to both parents working, the cost of this care could be handled with child care funds. Education is another example. If a child is in private school or has out-of-pocket expenses for their public school, child support could cover those costs.
Child support can also be used for extracurricular activities. If a child plays a sport or participates in marching band, child care payments could go to the expenses related to that activity. There is substantial leeway for what custodial parents use these funds for, but the non-custodial parent always has the option to raise an objection in court if they disagree with an expenditure.
How is The Amount of Child Support Set in Missouri?
One of the confusing aspects of child support awards is that despite the court setting an exact amount of support required each month, the parent receiving the support is not placed on a strict budget where every dollar is spent through a mutual agreement.
Instead, the court will use a formula to determine the appropriate amount of support for the children. From there, the court will provide the parent receiving the support with guidelines on how that money must be used.
In Missouri, the courts rely on something known as the Schule of Basic Support Obligations. This schedule is used to calculation baseline support amounts using each parent’s income. The minimum payment required under the law is $50 per month, but most cases see a larger award than the minimum.
The child support schedule is only a baseline, meaning a judge has the right to adjust the amount paid if they feel it is in the best interest of the child. For example, a parent with these obligations outside of this relationship might pay less due to their existing support bills. The court will also take any special needs of the child into consideration when determining a reasonable amount of support.
Can a parent Refuse to Return a Child from Visitation if Child Support Funds Were Misused?
It can be frustrating for a parent to determine that their co-parent has used support funds for something other than the wellbeing of the minor child. While misuse of these funds is a serious issue, it is not one that you can resolve on your own. As a parent, you do not have the right to interfere with the visitation or custody of the other parent—even if they have used child support funds for an improper purpose.
Instead, the right move is to reach out to an attorney for help. An attorney could pursue legal action that holds the other parent accountable for their misuse of child support. This could include ordering the money repaid, or it could end with changes to the support order.
It is important not to act outside of your authority when it comes to matters of support. Even if you believe the other parent is misusing support funds or failing to pay what is owed, taking steps that would impact their rights could only make things worse. All the J. Rench Law Firm, LLC to help you resolve these challenging situations.
How Does a Temporary Child Support Order Impact What the Funds are Used For?
Child support orders are not always final. During the course of a divorce or custody battle, the court has the power to issue something known as a temporary order. This order could spell out child support, visitation, and custody issues during the course of the underlying proceeding.
These temporary orders only remain in place while the court case is ongoing. However, they are still court orders that must be adhered to by both parties. That means that support ordered on a temporary basis should be used for the same purposes as a final order. These funds are intended to cover the basic needs of a minor child.
It is not uncommon for the court to use the award made in the temporary order as the calculation for support in the final order. For that reason, it is vital that you have a chance to make the case for a fair outcome in your case during every stage of the proceedings. Our firm could help ensure that you are treated fairly during a temporary order hearing.
When Does the Obligation for Child Support End in Missouri?
No matter how these funds are used, the obligation for Missouri parents to pay their child’s support will not last forever. Many people assume the obligation to provide support ends the moment a minor reaches the age of 18. However, it is important to understand that there are exceptions to this rule.
The primary exception regarding extended support is based on education. A parent has an obligation to provide support through the end of high school and possibly longer. If a child registers for higher education by October 1 following their high school graduation, the obligation of child support could last until age 21.
Can Child Support be Modified?
The amount in the child support order can also be modified. Keep in mind, the court will not increase or reduce the amount of support ordered on a whim. There must be a material change in circumstances before the court will consider a modification.
Often, these modification requests stem from a change in income for either parent. An amount of support that was once reasonable might suddenly become overbearing if the paying parent loses their job. Alternatively, changing the terms of a child support order could be necessary if the paying parent suddenly sees a significant increase in their income.
Talk to Our Firm Right Away in Missouri
If you are dealing with a dispute over child support, it is vital that you speak to a child support attorney right away. By working with legal counsel, you could protect your rights and give yourself a chance at a fair outcome to your case. There is no doubt that child support issues can be frustrating, but the right legal counsel could provide you with peace of mind knowing that you have a chance at a fair outcome.
It is understandable for you to want a fair outcome in your hearing. Our firm could ensure that your rights are protected while making certain those funds are used for the appropriate purpose. These efforts could result in our pressing the court to amend the child support order when necessary.
The J. Rench Law Firm, LLC is ready to help you during this challenging time. We could work with the other parent to resolve any disputes and simplify the process as much as possible. Reach out to us right away to schedule your initial consultation.