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Can you change your child support payment amount?

42892638_S.jpgWhen a judge issues the final order in a divorce case in Missouri that results in the dissolution of a marriage with children, an important component of that order will be the child support obligation.

The non-custodial parent, who is typically the parent with less time with the children, typically is required to make some amount child support payment to the custodial parent. This amount is generated by a complex calculation using a formula created by the Missouri legislature that involves the parents' incomes, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, the financial resources and needs of the child and the parents and multiple other factors.

While the child support is set by the final order of the divorce, we all know that life moves on and situations change. A parent who had a high-paying job may suddenly find their employer in trouble. Their job, once solid and secure can become tenuous and for reasons far beyond their control, they may be soon unemployed or faced with dramatically reduced earnings.

This can be a disaster because modifications of child support payments are not automatic simply because your income drops. While it may seem intuitive that if you have lost a significant portion or all of your income due to a job loss paying child support may become impossible, Missouri courts assume you will obtain new employment at a similar salary as you need income to cover your own life expenses.

They are also skeptical of anyone who suddenly experiences a substantial loss of income, as some individuals will attempt to shortchange their children as a means of "getting back" at their spouse. Such attempts are misguided, as the support obligations will not "go away," and cannot be eliminated like many debts by a procedure such as bankruptcy.

To lower your support obligations, you must experience a change so substantial that continuing the existing support obligation would be unreasonable. This is a very demanding standard, and you will likely need substantial evidence that supports your claim that you can no longer afford the higher amount.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
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