How is child support determined? - Child support is approached as a formula set forth by the Missouri Supreme Court.  This calculation is deemed to be a presumptive child support amount.  In order for a court to deviate from the calculated figure, it must consider the facts-in-evidence and determine that the presumptive amount is unjust and inappropriate and therefore contrary to the child's best interest.  The court may then order a higher or lower amount.

Deviating from the presumptive amount is only done by agreement of the parties.  In all my experience, I have never had a court deviate from the presumptive amount unless it was approving a settlement between the parents where they specifically requested some amount other than the presumptive amount. Almost universally the request was for a lower amount.

Because of the relatively straightforward formulaic process, it might seem that child support is rarely an issue.  In fact, contests are quite frequent.  Most often related to actual income of self-employed individuals.  Request to "impute" an income for under-employed or unemployed parents is also a regular problem. Questions also arise relating to additional expenses such as private schooling, medical insurance, day care, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

In order to estimate a child support figure an attorney needs to know the incomes of both parents, additional expenses and the anticipated living arrangements as the amount of time spent with both mother and father has some effect on the actual amount owed.

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