If you share children with a spouse or partner and the two of you have decided to live apart, you will need to figure out child support matters. Even if you and your co-parent do not know each other well and have never lived together, you are both still required to contribute to your child’s support and well-being. Missouri law holds both parents responsible for covering a child’s food, shelter, medical care, education, and other basic needs.
Unfortunately, coming up with a child support agreement that you and your co-parent are both satisfied with can be extremely difficult, especially without the guidance of an experienced family law attorney. Having a Ballwin child support lawyer on your side could help this process move forward as quickly and smoothly as possible. Let our team take the lead in creating a child support agreement that protects and serves your child, but also works for you and your co-parent. Contact Jones Family Law Group, LLC today to get started.
Handling Paternity Questions
If co-parents never married and never signed an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity, the mother is the only legal parent under the law. If you are a father wishing to gain legal rights to your child, or a mother seeking child support, you must establish legal paternity.
A child support attorney serving Ballwin could be your legal advocate and guide you through this process. A man who wants to assert paternity can acknowledge being the father through a court document. Unless the mother disputes the father’s claim, the court will accept the acknowledgment, and there is no need for a genetic test.
If the mother claims a man is her child’s father and the man denies it, the court will order a DNA test. If DNA confirms the man is the father, the child becomes entitled to financial aid from the father.
Formula Determines the Minimum Support Payment
While you and your co-parent have some say in how much child support is proper, Missouri publishes guidelines in Form 14 that sets a minimum amount. The formula considers the gross incomes of both parents, how many children each parent supports, how much time the children spend living in each parent’s home, and several other factors. A dedicated attorney at our firm could help you work with the formula to determine the minimum payment required in your Ballwin child support case.
You are free to pay or request more child support than that calculated using the formula if the situation calls for it—in most cases, parents want their children to have the same lifestyle they enjoyed when the family lived together. Sometimes, maintaining that lifestyle means the non-custodial parent pays additional support to the parent the children live with most of the time.
Although a court will devise a child support plan if necessary, you and your co-parent could try to work it out yourselves. You know what each of you can comfortably contribute and what your children need. If you can create a child support plan yourselves, you keep control, and the arrangement is more likely to meet your needs and, most importantly, your children’s needs. Of course, an attorney can help you figure out any issues you may face while creating this plan together.
Courts Must Approve Child Support Arrangements
Whether a court makes your child support plans or you and your co-parent do it yourselves, a judge must review the plan and approve it. Although they tend to honor the parents’ agreements, the Revised Statutes of Missouri §452.340 requires the court to consider specific factors before approving a child support arrangement.
The judge will look at your and your co-parent’s resources and see if the agreement seems fair. They will also give close attention to the children’s needs, especially if they have mental or physical health concerns or require special education services. The judge also considers how much time the children spend with each parent and the work-related childcare expenses each parent might have to pay.
An attorney serving Ballwin could review your agreement before you present it to the judge. If the legal professional finds potential problems, they could help you resolve them before you get to court.
Get Help from a Ballwin Child Support Attorney Today
At Jones Family Law Group, LLC, we understand that child support is often an emotional issue to discuss and decide upon. Conversations of this nature can quickly become bitter and hostile—but it does not have to be this way. A seasoned legal professional from our firm is here to guide you, help handle these complex topics, and keep discussions on track and productive.
A Ballwin child support lawyer could help you and your co-parent craft an agreement that works well for the two of you and provides your children the financial support they need to thrive. Call our firm today to schedule your confidential consultation with a seasoned family law professional.