Parents naturally are most concerned about their children at the time of divorce. One of the most important issues to be decided is how and in what amounts the children will be financially provided for.
Missouri Form 14
The Missouri Supreme Court has developed a way of calculating the amounts needed for support of children: it is called the Form 14 and it is readily available on the internet. The Form 14 child support amount is based on the gross (before tax deductions) income of each parent, the number of children of the marriage and various adjustments to income, including (among others) the cost of work-related child care and health insurance for the children.
Calculating Missouri Child Support
The Form 14 seems deceptively simple. It might appear that all one needs to do is plug in the gross income of each party, along with some other expenses like day care, and then out comes a child support number. Calculating child support is not, however, as easy as it might first appear. For instance:
- Should bonus or overtime income be included in gross income?
- Should private school tuition be included as an expense for one or more children?
- What if a party has remarried – should the new spouse’s income be included?
- Should the amount of parenting time for each parent affect child support?
- What if a parent who had a high paying job loses the job – should child support be based on the income he or she was previously making?
- Who get the child tax credit?
These and many other questions can cause distress and conflict when trying to come up with the “right” amount of Form 14 child support. Fighting this issue in court can turn into a bitter and expensive battle with your spouse.
Collaborative Divorce and Child Support
In the collaborative divorce process you and your spouse can look at your individual circumstances and come to creative solutions that meet the interests of each of you and, most importantly, your children. With the help of your collaborative attorneys, your coach, and your financial professional, you and your spouse can discuss what your actual expenses are for your children and then come to decisions about how you want to pay those expenses. Maybe you will decide that no child support money will flow from one parent to the other parent and that you and your spouse will each pay certain expenses or certain percentages of all of the expenses for your child. Or, maybe you will decide that it is right that one parent pay child support to the other and agree on the correct amount for your family. Or, you might conclude that an agreed upon support amount will be paid less than 12 months per year.
The options available to you in collaborative divorce for making decisions about what is best for financial support of your children are limitless. Using the collaborative divorce process to analyze financial support of your children allows you, with the support and help of your collaborative team, to take a deeper dive into thinking about what your children need and what you and your spouse will be able to afford after the divorce. Once you are armed with the facts, you and your spouse can make informed decisions about how best to provide for your children in your unique family situation.