Child Support in Missouri
A Child needs the support of both parents to get the best out of life. Sometimes, the parents are separated, and this can place a strain on the resources of the parent with whom the child stays. To balance out the high costs of raising a child, child support laws have been established with set legal obligations for both parents of a child, with regards to the care and upbringing of their child.
Child Support Process
The Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) is responsible for the Child Support Program across the state. Parents who receive public financial assistance get an automatic referral to the Child Support Program. Other parents not receiving public assistance who want to apply for child support services can do so by filling the form at https://dss.mo.gov/child-support/pdf/CS_300EZ.pdf and clicking the “submit” button found on the same page.
The services available to custodial parents include
- Locating the other parent: Using the information provided in the child support application, the Child Support Program attempts to locate the noncustodial parent. Information that may be particularly helpful includes the last known residential address, employer’s details, phone number, and social security number. The Child Support Program uses these details to locate the parent so that a notice of the child support request can be served.
- Establishing paternity: When the alleged father of the child has been located, there may be a need to establish paternity. This is especially the case when the parents were not married when the child was born. If both parents agree that the man is the father of the child, he can sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. After this, he becomes the legal father of the child, and his name is added to the child’s birth certificate. However, if there is doubt concerning the actual paternity of the child, the parents can get free paternity testing through the Family Support Division. If the tests show at least a 98% probability of fatherhood, then the man is taken as the legal father of the child, and a court order is issued to this effect. For parents who were married when the child was born, the husband is assumed to be the legal father of the child. If the husband is not the father of the child, the mother and husband would have to fill the Husband’s Denial of Paternity, which is attached to the Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. For further information on establishing paternity, visit https://dss.mo.gov/child-support/establish-paternity.htm
- Setting up a child support order: This is done after confirming the paternity of the child. In setting up the order, the amount to be paid is decided.
- Reviewing and changing orders: If there are significant changes, especially in the financial status of the parents, a review of the existing support order can be requested. This will take into account the changes and make necessary adjustments.
How To Receive Child Support Payments?
Parents receiving child support can get their payments by direct deposit or on a prepaid card. The direct deposit option allows the child support payment to be sent electronically to the bank account of the parent. Custodial parents who want to receive their child support payments via direct deposits can complete an online direct deposit form at https://mo.smartchildsupport.com/(X(1)S(xgv4t3rlwevjqcgrpabgmzym))/DirectDeposit.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 or they can download a paper form from https://dss.mo.gov/child-support/pdf/direct-deposit-form-cs-160.pdf and mail it to PO Box 109006, Jefferson City, Missouri 65110-9006.
The prepaid card is a smiONE debit card that has the payments loaded onto it once they are processed by the Child Support Program. The card can be used just like a regular debit card to withdraw cash and make purchases. Details of the smiONE card can be found at https://www.smionecard.com/.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
Child support payments in Missouri are not arbitrarily decided. rather, several factors are taken into consideration when establishing a child support order. The guidelines for establishing a child support order include the income of the parents, the number of children, the cost of healthcare, the special needs of the child (if any), existing child support obligations of the noncustodial parent, alimony being paid or received by each parent, etc. With all these factors considered, the court sets a reasonable amount to be paid as child support, making sure that it decently covers childcare costs while not being unfair to the noncustodial parent.
Enforcement of Child Support
Child support in Missouri is enforced in several ways. These enforcement actions are usually taken automatically when noncustodial parents default on their child support payments. Some of the enforcement actions are interception of federal and state tax refunds, withholding part of the income of the parent, interception of lottery winnings, placing liens on property of the defaulting parent, suspension of various licenses, making reports to credit bureaus, etc. The court may also order the employer of the noncustodial parent to enroll the child in healthcare plans that will be deducted from the wages of the parent. In some cases, Contempt of Court charges may be brought against the parent, which may lead to incarceration. The Child Support Program does to cancel outstanding debts even the child has passed the age of support; therefore, all arrears must be paid.