Child support is assigned when parents divorce or separate. It’s important to understand how crucial child support is for the well-being and needs of a child. Some parents misinterpret child support, but it exists to care for your child and ensure that both parents are contributing equitable levels of financial support. There are several factors that influence how child support is calculated. A Kansas City child support attorney can help you negotiate a custody and support determination in or out of court.

What Is the Purpose of Child Support?

The Purpose of child support is to ensure children are cared for financially after a divorce. Both parents have the legal responsibility to provide financially for their children. This responsibility doesn’t change when parents separate, and child support is how the court ensures that both parents continue providing support.

Child support is paid from one parent to the other, typically to the parent with more parenting time and/or less income. It provides for the basic needs of a child, including healthcare, food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. The judge may also order support for additional expenses, such as private school costs, extra medical needs, daycare, and afterschool activities.

Child support typically continues until:

  • The child is 18, is no longer in high school, and is not enrolled in college.
  • They graduate college or no longer attend college full-time.
  • They turn 21, get married, join the military, or die.

There are some exceptions to these limitations, such as when an adult who was receiving child support as a child is disabled and unable to support themselves financially.

How to Calculate Child Support in Kansas City

All decisions made regarding children in the Missouri family court are based on the child’s interests. Missouri has clear guidelines for child support based on two factors:

  1. The number of children who require support
  2. The combined adjusted gross income (AGI) of both parents

The AGI of each parent is their various sources of benefits and taxable income minus certain deductions. Based on this information, you can determine your recommended child support amount as listed on Missouri’s Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. The parent with the greater income will typically pay the lesser-earning spouse, or the parent with less parenting time will pay support to the primary custodial parent.

In some cases, parents can deviate from the amount listed under state guidelines. For the court to agree to the deviation, it must be in the child’s interest. The court will look at several factors when deciding whether to approve a deviation, including:

  • The basic financial needs and resources a child has
  • The financial resources, needs, and obligations of each parent
  • Each parent’s current and past employment
  • The child’s expected standard of living
  • The child’s educational needs
  • The amount of child custody each parent has
  • Health insurance costs for a child
  • The cost of childcare due to parental employment
  • The child’s emotional and physical well-being

If the combined AGI of parents exceeds the state’s listed guidelines, a deviation will be necessary. High-income divorces have additional complications for child support determinations.

There are very rare cases where child support is not assigned, usually due to parents having equal custody and near-equal income. For most parents, however, some level of child support will be required.

Modifying Child Support

Although child support orders through the court must be followed, the family court knows that they must adapt to fit your family’s needs. You can modify child support if:

  1. There is a significant and relevant change in circumstances.
  2. It has been three years since the last modification or the initial creation of the order.

A relevant change in circumstances includes changes in the financial needs of a parent or child, changes in custody, or a 20% or greater change in income of either parent. A modification or appeal may also be appropriate if the initial support order was unfair.


Q: How Much Is Child Support for One Kid in Missouri?

A: Child support for one kid in Missouri depends on you and your spouse’s finances and the specific needs of your children. The child support for one child depends on the combined income of both parents.

The absolute minimum child support payment is $50 a month for parents whose combined adjusted gross income is less than $1,000 per year. The support guidelines for the state list up to a combined adjusted gross income of $30,000, where the support for one child is $2,164 per month. This amount is split between parents. If you and your co-parent have a higher combined gross income, this will alter the support calculations.

Q: What Is the Deadbeat Dad Law in Missouri?

A: The “deadbeat dad” law in Missouri is called nonsupport. When a parent of either gender knowingly fails to provide child support when they are legally expected to or if they knowingly fail to provide support to their spouse, this is considered nonsupport. Nonsupport is a crime in Missouri, and it is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If the missed support totals 12 months of missed support payments, then the crime is charged as a Class E felony.

Q: What Is the New Custody Law in Missouri in 2023?

A: In 2023, a new law for child custody determinations changes how the court makes legal assumptions. Prior to the change, although courts tended to prefer joint custody when appropriate, this was not an assumption by law.

Now, it is a legal assumption that it is in a child’s interests to spend frequent and meaningful time with each of their parents when deciding custody. To change this joint custody assumption, there would have to be proof that one or both parents are unfit, such as being unable to provide the basic requirements for raising a child.

Q: How Much Can Child Support Take Out of Your Check in Missouri?

A: The state of Missouri can take out a certain portion of your check each period for child support. Missouri follows the guidelines set by the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which sets limits on the percentage of your wages that can be garnished. If an individual is behind on payments to support a dependent child or spouse, the following limits apply:

  • For less than 12 weeks of unpaid support, 60% of wages can be garnished
  • For more than 12 weeks unpaid, a limit of 65%
  • For less than 12 weeks unpaid by the head of the household due to your support of a spouse or dependent child, a limit of 50%
  • For more than 12 weeks unpaid by the head of household, a limit of 55%

Navigating Child Support

At Stange Law Firm, we have worked for many years supporting families during support determinations and modifications. If you need a skilled and compassionate attorney, contact our team today.