The amount someone pays or receives in child support can be determined by a number of factors, but the most important are the number of children being supported, the incomes of the parents, and the needs of the children.
Over time, the earnings of one parent or both may change, perhaps significantly, as might the needs of the child as he/she grows older, such as due to a change in the health of a child. The costs of raising a child can also change simply due to price increases or declines for the goods or services involved in child rearing, such as the cost of food, clothing, health care, as well as new cost factors, such as the cost of driving a car, or of a college education.
The state of Missouri issues child support guidelines (a.k.a. the “Form 14” guidelines) every five years that “suggest” what the child support should be. These guidelines were last issued in 2005 and are not due for revision until 2010. Sometimes, though, there can be a significant swing in child rearing costs in the time between when the state guidelines are issued, or in just the products or services required by a child with special needs, such as a child with unique educational requirements that cannot be met by the public schools.
Whatever the reason or cause, when these changes are “substantial and continuing” and result in at least a 20% difference versus what is currently being paid or received according the “Form 14” calculation the courts rely on to identify child support costs, this can provide the legal basis for changing the amount of child support.
If either the payer or recipient believes that a change is justified, that party can file a “motion-to-modify” with the court. Once filed, the person filing has the burden to prove up the substantial and continuing changes that he/she believes justify the requested modification through the presentation of evidence to the court.
Cynthia Fox Can Assist You in Making Sure the Right Amount of Child Support is Paid
Cynthia Fox has represented hundreds of individuals in cases where a change in the child support amount has been sought. She has assisted clients seeking the modification as well as clients who believed a change was not justified. In this role, Cindy has negotiated settlements with the other attorney, or when that cannot be achieved, tried the case before a judge.
Mediating a Child Support Dispute Can Be Less Costly and Emotionally Wearing
Child support modification cases can also be mediated between the parties in a less adversarial approach, where Cindy meets with both payer and recipient at the same time to assist them in fact-gathering and in negotiating a mutually acceptable outcome. Cynthia then prepares that agreement in written form for the parties to present to the court.
No matter how the outcome is achieved, whether negotiated with the other attorney, mediated between the parties, or litigated in court, there can no change in court-enforceable child support until it is accepted and ordered by the court.