Think Equal Custody Means No Child Support? Think Again.

There are many questions and misconceptions surrounding child support obligations. One is whether sharing child custody 50/50 exempts divorcing spouses from owing and receiving child support payments.

In Missouri, child support is based on financial need, to ensure that the parent with less income can properly provide for the kids. It is customary for the spouse who earns less to receive financial support from the parent who earns more.

The primary reason for this is because the cost of living increases substantially after parents’ divorce and must maintain separate households. Both will now have to cover the mortgage or rent, utilities, food and transportation costs, leaving less for the cost of caring for children. Even when there is spousal maintenance, a parent who works only part-time, or not at all, would have a great deal of trouble meeting their children’s needs without regular child support payments.

It can also be argued that the financial basis exists to discourage a parent from fighting for equal custody they may not want or be able to fulfill, just so they can avoid child support obligations.

The 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit does not affect the amount of child support owed, because it is not counted as income. For divorced parents, as we explain in another recent blog, only the parent who claimed the children as dependents on their previous tax return will receive the credit. The monthly payments can, however, help families and especially single moms who receive child support through the end of 2021–and perhaps beyond, as this article in Parents magazine proposes.

Read our previous blog to learn how child support is calculated in Missouri. Visit the Missouri Child Support Enforcement (CSE) website for additional information and services.

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team.