The law pertaining to termination of child support can be complex in its application. This post is an overview of the topic, but it is not offered as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice should only be obtained from a family law attorney.
In an earlier post, we discussed how child support is calculated. In Missouri, either the court or the Family Support Division can enter a child support order. Form 14 provides guidelines for calculating child support, but the court or FSD can choose to award a different amount than what the guidelines suggest. Once a child support order has been entered, the law favors keeping that order in place to ensure stability for children. As a result, modification of child support is difficult, yet possible.
Establishing the paternity of a child provides definite advantages and benefits to both the father and the child, including but not limited to eligibility of the father to petition for child custody and visitation in the event of a divorce and the child's eligibility for Social Security benefits in the event of the father's death. But how is paternity legally established?
When child support is ordered in a court proceeding, the court's determination of the amount and terms of the support to be paid are based upon the court's opinion of what is in the best interest of the child. So the failure of a parent to pay the ordered support becomes not just a problem for the child and the other parent but also for state authorities charged with the enforcement of child support orders.
When contemplating divorce, the custody of any children from the marriage and the payment of child support are two of the more contentious issues. While there are unfortunately many parents who are not active participants in their child's life, even though they agree to pay child support, even worse are those who relinquish custody and then fail or refuse to pay the child support ordered by the court.
The end of a marriage which has produced children inevitably leads to many questions on the part of the divorcing couple: spousal support issues, custody and visitation rights, asset distribution, and more. One question that also needs to be addressed is how to determine who should pay child support, and how much should be paid.