Disability can change nearly every aspect of a Missouri family's life, especially when the disabled parent is a major source of child support. Because parental disability can have such a significant effect on income, it can also mean major changes for the children as well as for the parent. In general, child support orders are based on a formula that includes the parent's income as a major factor in the calculation. It is assumed that the parent will continue to maintain at least this level of income while their children remain minors. However, disability can cause a significant and unexpected change in a parent's earnings.
Disability insurance, often provided by an employer, can help to shield the family from the economic impact of disability. However, while these insurance payments are invaluable, they rarely are equal in amount to the parent's pre-disability full salary. This means that while the parent has a continuing obligation to pay child support, they may be able to go back to family court to seek a support modification that reflects their current income rather than their former salary.
A child support modification can be permanent or temporary. If the parental disability is considered to cause only a temporary reduction in income, the court may order a different child support amount for the period of time needed for recovery. On the other hand, if the disability is considered to be permanent, the modification may also permanently reduce the monthly child support obligation. Child support payments can be deducted directly from insurance or other disability benefits.
A disabled parent may be struggling to keep up with their child support obligations and could soon face debt or arrears. A family law attorney may work with parents with disabilities to seek a modified child support order that reflects their current earning ability.