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When Does Child Support End in Missouri?

When Does Child Support End in Missouri?One of the main questions of parents paying child support is, “When will the monthly obligation end?” Likewise, this is something that a receiving parent must also be aware of, so they can prepare for the time when support payments stop. Here’s what Missouri law says on the ending or termination of child support. If you need legal guidance on your particular child support situation, talk to our experienced Family Law attorney.

When does child support end in MO?

Generally, Missouri child support obligations end when the child turns 18, but there are exceptions. One is if the child obtains legal emancipation or self-sufficiency before turning 18, then the monthly support payments may end. Other legal reasons for ending child support include the child getting married, entering active duty in the military, or passing away.

On the other hand, the duration of child support may be extended in certain circumstances:

  • If the child turns 18 but is mentally or physically incapacitated, the court has the power to extend the child support order.
  • If the child turns 18 but is still attending secondary school, the child support obligation extends until the child obtains a high school diploma.
    • However, child support ends if the child fails to attend school regularly or reaches the age of 21 years old while still in school.
  • If the child turns 18 and graduates high school but enrolls in a higher education or vocational program by October 1st of that year, child support continues.
    • In this case, the payments continue until the child’s 21st birthday or completion of the program, whichever comes first.
    • The child must complete at least 12 hours of credit per semester and achieve high enough grades to reenroll at the same institution. If the child fails to meet these conditions, child support may end.
    • Other reasons for termination of child support in this case include the child failing half or more of their course load in one semester or failing to produce school documents that the paying parent has requested.

Can you waive child support in Missouri?

No, a parent cannot decline or waive child support obligations in Missouri. It’s the duty of both parents to support their child, whether as a custodial parent or a parent sending monthly payments. Once the court has ordered child support, that order stands until it is terminated or modified.

If there’s a substantial change in circumstances that would make their child support payments unreasonable – for example, if the paying parent loses their income – they may request the court to modify the order.

Also, if a paying parent owes “back child support” (arrears), they may take steps to have these arrears waived by the court.

Can I get my child support arrears dismissed in Missouri?

If a parent falls behind on their child support obligations, this results in child support arrears or “back child support” that they owe for missed monthly payments.

It’s possible to request the court to waive child support arrears owed to the other parent. Both parents must agree on how the arrears are settled, such as by paying only part of the total amount and waiving the remaining balance. They must then put this agreement in writing, and submit it for the court’s review and approval. An attorney’s guidance is valuable in this process.

However, if the child received support from the State, such as if the custodial parent received food stamps, the arrears are potentially a debt owed to the State, not to the other parent. In this case, the State will not offer “forgiveness” of missed payments. It will likely pursue enforcement against the parent owing back support.

Missing child support payments for six months or for a total of more than $5,000 may bring up criminal prosecution against the owing parent. If the parent goes to jail for this, it will not erase the back support they owe. The arrears will continue to accumulate until they are settled.

It’s advisable to consult a lawyer if you have missed child support payments or want to explore the possibility of modifying the child support obligation assuming there has been some kind of material change that warrants it.

Contact a Family Law Attorney at Shea Kohl Law

In St. Charles and surrounding cities in Missouri, Shea Kohl Law is a trusted firm that provides efficient and practical counsel on complicated family law matters.

Call Shea Kohl Law at (636) 946-9999 or email us for a confidential consultation.

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Shea Kohl Law, LC serves clients in Missouri including St. Charles, Troy and Lincoln and throughout Warren and St. Louis counties. We also serve clients in Illinois.