How is Child Support Determined in St Louis? Ask Our Lawyers
Child support is an ongoing, periodic payment made by a parent for the financial benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or other relationship. Child support is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children, where they do not live with both parents.
In Missouri, the Supreme Court has ruled that child support must be calculated using a specific method, called a “Form 14.” (See link). The Form 14 incorporates information regarding income, maintenance, health insurance costs, childcare costs and overnight visitation credits. But the most important factor is usually the income of both parents. On its face, the Form 14 may look easy to fill out and straight forward. This is a deception.
What numbers are entered into the Form 14 are usually fiercely fought over between the divorce lawyers. For example, what the “real” income is of a parent and the amount of “overnight credit” to be awarded to a parent can make a huge difference in how much child support has to be paid. As a result, these questions are often hotly contested. These two issues alone can produce child support which varies by hundreds of dollars each month. Divorce lawyers take the Form 14 very seriously. So do judges. The Behrens Law Firm understands the importance of keeping up to date on the law affecting these issues and fighting for your rights when child support is being calculated.
What is the “Overnight Credit?”
So what is the “overnight credit?” For one thing, it is the single number that can mostly affect child support, as it has the power to significantly decrease a parents child support, it that parent is found to have the children overnight over a high percentage of the year. That is why it is often one of the most contested issues when determining child support.
To arrive at what overnight credit a parent should receive; both parents are required to determine the number of nights each year the children will spend with each of them.
If the parent paying support gets the children enough overnight, their child support obligation will be cut. These numbers are based on the parenting plan, which says when the children will be with each parent. But parenting plans can be flexible, so the number of overnight stay is often just an estate. But a wrong estimate can mean a big difference in the amount of child support owed. It is imperative that you have a good lawyer, familiar with all the arguments surrounding the Form 14 if you are a parent as the question about how much overnight credit should be given will always have to be resolved before the judge can grant a divorce to parents. The Behrens Law Firm has experience handling many, varied and complex child support cases and can help protect your interests by fighting for and “overnight credit” is fair and accurate. The firm takes the time to listen and understand every client’s wants and circumstances and works hard to ensure that clients receive the fairest possible child support award.
Determining a Parent’s “Real Income”
Determining a parent’s real income, for purposes of entry on the Form 14 and thereafter child support is difficult in St. Louis, Missouri as the laws are complex and must take in such a large number of factors. For instance, is the individual’s income more than a simple paycheck? Are there undisclosed bonuses, income from royalties, investments, even regular monetary gifts? All of these should be factored in to determine an individual’s income. What if one parent is self employed and may be “working off the books, for cash only?” How do you prove this income/
Military income is especially complex. A solder may get substantial allowances for housing or hazard pay. These can also be included in total income. But what happens when they return from overseas, or are reassigned?
Stocks, stock options, and bonds must also be factored into a spouse’s income. If a company is family owned, substantial perks may be involved which hide the real amount of income being received from the company. You need an experienced child support lawyer who can help you fight for the proper amount of child support money owed to you or which you will owe. The Behrens Law Firm will review all relevant sources of income of the other parent, to ensure that your child support is fair and what it should be under the law.