Currently, Section 452.340, RSMo, is the primary statutory authority in Missouri for child support. It touches on the size, scope, nature and duration of child support payments, and how it is are handled and calculated in conjunction with a decree of divorce or legal separation.
The Missouri Legislature is discussing making a small tweak in the child support process inherent in a divorce with H.B. 227. The Bill would amend 452.340, RSMo, procedurally. The text can be found at:
Specifically, the Bill would require that when child support is determined with Missouri Civil Procedure From No. 14, the calculations of income made therein must be verified by a W-2 form, wage stubs or other appropriate financial documentation. Additionally, the Bill provides that a court cannot award child support when (1) both parents sign an agreement not to award child support and to award joint physical custody resulting in the child spending equal time with both parents, the(2) difference of the verified income of the parents is less than 25%, and (3) joint custody is in the best interests of the child.
While I do not pretend to know why the Missouri House Legislature is pushing for such changes, I can venture a few guesses. One, Form No. 14 is very flexible and can be manipulated, so requiring documentation could be an important step toward providing certainty in the process. Two, child support orders can only be changed by petition to the court; if the initial order isn’t accurate, then more judicial resources and taxpayer dollars have to be devoted to fixing the amount. Third, as with all family law in Missouri, the legislature believes it to be in the best interests of the children of the marriage.
I’m of the opinion that the above changes would be positive for Missouri law. Now we’ll have to wait and see if it passes.