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Missouri Child Custody & Missouri Child Support

Missouri family courts follow those in all other states in strongly advocating that divorcing parents cooperatively negotiate the specifics of raising their children, as an amicable agreement is of course in the best interests of the children. When parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will step in and decide issues of custody, visitation and support with the best interests of the children in mind. The following topics offer information on the laws governing Missouri child custody and support.

Missouri Child Custody:
Missouri courts determine all custody issues as a function of the best interests of the children. The court will consider all relevant facts and give the father and mother the same consideration regardless of the child’s sex or age. Either a sole or joint custody decision will be reached. The factors the court will consider include, among others: children’s age, their health, their wishes, the parental roles, and other needs of the children.
Missouri Child Support:
Child support in Missouri is determined in accordance with the Income Shares Model for child support, where each parent’s income is considered in relative proportion. The support amounts calculated from each parent then help decide which parent must pay the other in order to maintain the correct proportion and provide for the needs of the child.
These guidelines are not always followed, but a decision to follow a different standard will require supportive evidence showing 1) all the factors that affect the parties’ financial obligations differently, and 2) how applying a standard other than the Income Shares Model will more effectively preserve the best interests of the child(ren).
Numerous factors that can be considered by the courts here include, but are not limited to:
  • monetary support provided for other family members
  • debts arising during the marriage for the child’s benefit
  • imputed income to a party who is voluntarily unemployed for the child’s benefit
  • court-ordered payments for health care or education for the child’s benefit
  • children’s independent financial resources, if any
  • education, training, and/or career opportunities of the parties and/or ability to pursue these
  • a written agreement between the parties including the amount of child support
Naturally, a Missouri divorce lawyer will be able to help you understand more thoroughly your rights and responsibilities in terms of raising children after a divorce, and serve as your advocate and/or counsel when negotiating a parenting agreement.