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What to do when you fall behind on child support in Missouri

13322990_S.jpgMany fathers and mothers in the St. Louis area are behind on their child support obligations. This is not necessarily because they are bad parents or because they do not want to support their children, but rather because times are tough. Many people are seeing their wages remain flat, or even decrease, while the costs of all of the essentials - groceries, transportation, medicine and clothing - continue to rise. Such conditions can make it very difficult for people to send those child support checks.

In 2009, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement reported that there was about $108 billion in back child support owed to families. Of course, some parents may refuse to pay child support for other reasons, but many parents have the best of intentions though they cannot pay what is asked of them.

When a parent cannot afford his or her child support obligations, it may be time to consider requesting a child support modification.

Child support orders can be modified in Missouri when financial circumstances change. For example, a modification may be in order if the paying spouse has become unemployed or has sustained an income cut.

It is important to seek a modification through the court system in order to avoid being found in contempt of a court order. Failing to pay the amount of child support that has been ordered can lead to serious consequences in Missouri. Back support can be pulled from a person's tax return and a delinquent parent can lose his or her driver's license, among other penalties. Additionally, modifications will not apply retroactively. So, it is important not to fall far into arrears before a modification is issued, because the amount overdue will not be erased.

Source: Daily Finance, "What to Do When Your Ex Won't (or Can't) Pay Child Support," Geoff Williams, Nov. 21, 2013

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