Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)

Child Support Obligation Still Due Even While Doing Time in Prison

Some weeks this column offers up a single meaty topic to dig into and digest. This is not one of those weeks. Instead, I offer you a couple bite-size nuggets from the Missouri Court of Appeals to pique your interest and sate your appetite.


Nugget #1: In October, the Southern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals denied the appeal of one Lindel W. Mason, who is presently incarcerated in the Farmington Correctional Center serving a three year term for felonies not specifically disclosed the court’s decision.


Mr. Mason, who represented himself, petitioned the court to reduce his monthly child support obligation from $178.00 a month “to a sum appropriate to his earnings”, which Mr. Mason asserts are now just $7.50 a month.


In affirming the lower court’s denial of Mason’s request, the Appeals Court quotes that court saying: “Appellant’s present incarceration is a result of voluntary illegal and felonious actions taken by Appellant such that he was not entitled to modify or stay his court ordered child support payments.”


The Court of Appeals went on to point out that there is a long history of Missouri cases holding that “incarceration does not excuse the obligation to support the needs of one’s children”, pointing to Oberg v. Oberg, decided in 1993, where a request to modify the obligation was denied for a prisoner whose income was just $15.00 per month versus the $3,000 earned monthly before being jailed.


I am sure that Appellant Mason was disappointed when he learned that his appeal had been denied, but it must have been particularly painful to read that as far back as 1993, an inmate in another Missouri prison was making twice what he now earns in Farmington.


Nugget #2: A reader has written me that after going through a very difficult divorce earlier this year, she is now receiving weekly calls and emails from her ex-husband threatening to take her back to court because she is not paying anything toward their son’s college education.


According to the reader, the cost of the divorce left her with no money to contribute to her child’s college expenses, but that she has been assisting him in obtaining student loans and other financial aid to the tune of $10,000 this year, while the father has so far contributed all of $880.00


My correspondent writes that her divorce decree states that the father is to pay half the cost of a post-secondary education, be that a college, university or vocational school, but that there is no such language directing her to make any such a payment. Even so, she says that her ex-husband’s lawyer claims that it is understood and implicit that that the custodial parent is to pay the remaining 50%.


“Is this true?” she asks.


The long and short answer is the same: No. Whether intentional or inadvertent, this omission by the court frees you from having to pay one red cent of your child’s college expenses. You can tell the other attorney to take his bluff and bluster and put it where the sun doesn’t shine and the marching band can’t be heard.