The Best Interest of the Child
In almost every divorce case that involves a child, you can expect to see some level of child support being assigned to a parent. Some may wonder, however, how this amount is calculated or if it’s just an arbitrary amount assigned by a judge. Missouri makes it simple to calculate child support using an official form. Here is what you need to know regarding calculating Missouri child support.
Using Form 14
One of the simplest ways to calculate child support amounts is to use what is known as Form 14, or the Child Support Amount Calculation Worksheet. This form gives the user a step-by-step breakdown of how to work out your child support payments. It also allows for a user to calculate support payments for a number of children and not just one child.
Start with Gross Income
When determining child support, you should start by figuring out your gross income as well as that of your ex-spouse. Gross income encompasses all sources of income before any taxes and deductions are figured and includes any salary or wages, tips, bonuses, commission, and other sources of financial gain.
Determine Adjusted Gross Income
After figuring out gross income, the next step is to make any necessary adjustments based on any previously existing child support payments or spousal support payments; this is known on the form as adjusted gross income. After this adjusted income is calculated, you should then divide the adjusted gross income of each spouse by the added total adjusted gross income of both spouses; this calculates the proportion each parent is responsible for as it relates to the child’s expenses.
In addition, the worksheet allows you to add in potential additional costs that may come up in relation to the child. These expenses could include childcare costs, health insurance costs, school-related costs such as tuition for a private school, and others. Any other costs agreed upon by the court can also be included here.
When these costs are determined and assigned to each parent proportionally, you then take the total amount of the expenses and multiply that number by each parent’s proportionate share.
Make one final deduction for the parent paying child support based on how much time he or she has visitation with the child.
Potential Additional Considerations
There are several additional factors that could play into a child support amount. Missouri law gives a judge guidelines on how to determine proper child support payments, but these factors may influence their decision:
The financial need and financial resources of both the child and parents.
The child’s physical condition and mental well-being.
The child’s current educational need or status.
An estimate of the state of living the child would have should the parents have remained married.
These factors, while not officially written into Missouri law, may influence the amount of child support paid and received.
A Basic Example Calculation
The following is a very basic sample calculation using as simple of numbers as possible. Your support amount may look very different from this but can be calculated similarly.
Brendan and Shelby are getting divorced, and they have a child that needs to be supported financially. Brendan’s gross income is $60,000 per year, while Shelby makes $50,000 per year. Neither of them has child support payments from a previous marriage, but Brendan will be making monthly alimony payments of $500 per month. That alimony amount will be deducted from his gross income, giving him an adjusted gross income of $54,000 per year.
Adding the two gross incomes together gives a total of $104,000 adjusted per year. Dividing both Brendan’s and Shelby’s adjusted gross incomes by this total amount will give Brendan a share of approximately 52% of the child’s expenses and Shelby a share of roughly 48%.
Adding up the expenses for the child including private school tuition, health insurance, and reasonable child care expenses totals approximately $10,000 per year. Multiplying the percentages above by this total amount means Brendan is responsible for $5200 of the child’s yearly expenses, thus calculating his total child support amount.
For this example, no additional considerations will be given and it will also assume an equal share of parenting time. Therefore, dividing Brendan’s annual responsibility into 12 monthly payments means his monthly child support amount comes to $433.33.
Hire a Missouri Child Support Attorney
Accurately determining a fair child support amount is best served by having a family law attorney by your side. Rutter and Sleeth Law Offices wants to help you seek a solution for your child support case that is fair and just.
Call our office today at (573) 279-1349 or visit us online to schedule a consultation.