Child support is a monthly sum of money that one parent pays to the other to help finance childcare. Missouri’s state-mandated Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligation helps courts calculate these payments.
The schedule provides courts with a basic guideline of what a custodial parent should expect to receive in monthly child support. How are these amounts calculated?
The math of raising children
Starting at a minimum payment of $50 a month, Missouri’s Schedule weighs two factors against each other when calculating child support payments:
- Number of children: Child support payments increase with the number of children requiring funding. A family of two children at average income requires $1,222 in monthly child support, whereas a family of four at the same income needs $1,600.
- Combined adjusted gross income: Gross income includes a parent’s salary, wages, pensions, interest payments, social security benefits, retirement benefits, rental income, dividends, and more. Starting at $50 each month, child support payments increase with every $50 the parents earn in combined gross income. For instance, if both parents work full time at minimum wage, their combined gross income is about $2,500. For two children, the schedule dictates a parent pays $732 every month. For three children at the same income level, the total is $863.
Judges ultimately make the final decision on payment amounts, though most follow the recommended guidelines. Judges can order child support payments to cover additional expenses, including daycare, extracurricular activities and other costs. These child support obligation schedules help courts regulate fairness in these cases, which parents can find emotionally challenging.
Child support obligations last until the child
- Turns 18 and has a high school degree
- Turns age 21
- Enlists in the military
- Graduates from college or attends classes part-time
- Gets married
Legal support can help parents
A local lawyer familiar with family law can help parents work through child support cases efficiently and effectively. An attorney can help identify child support expenses and navigate tricky legal paperwork so parents can focus on their family’s health.