Being a single parent can be one of the most demanding roles a person can undertake. They must balance work and home life while providing emotional and financial support for their child. It is understandable why many single parents find it challenging to make ends meet. Among the many obstacles that single parents face, navigating the child support system can be especially daunting. Not only is it a complex legal process that can involve multiple parties, but it can also be emotionally taxing and overwhelming.

Child support is a vital source of income for many single-parent households. It can significantly affect the quality of life for both the parent and the child. However, understanding how to obtain and enforce child support can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the system. Single parents need to know their rights and options. However, they often need more resources to confidently navigate the complex legal system. This allows single parents to ensure their rights are respected and that their children receive the financial support they need.

How to Obtain Child Support

The first step toward obtaining child support after divorce is filing a petition with the court. The parent seeking child support should gather all necessary documents, such as birth certificates, marriage documents (if necessary), and proof of income. The petitioner must also provide the court with contact information for the other parent. Once a petition for child support is filed, the court will issue a summons and serve it to the other parent.

Once served with the summons, both parents must attend a court hearing. During the hearing, both parties can present evidence or witnesses they feel are necessary to reach an equitable settlement. After both sides have presented their cases, the court will make a ruling on child support. Their decision will be based on what is most beneficial for the child and the case’s circumstances.

Enforcing Child Support

Unfortunately, not all non-custodial parents comply with court-ordered child support payments. In such cases, the custodial parent can take legal action to enforce the child support order. The following are some options for enforcing child support:

  • Wage Garnishment: This is the most common way to enforce child support. The court orders the non-custodial parent’s employer to withhold a portion of their wages to pay child support.
  • Contempt of Court: If the non-custodial parent repeatedly fails to make child support payments, the custodial parent can file a motion for contempt of court. If the court finds the non-custodial parent in contempt, they may face fines or jail time.
  • Seizure of Assets: The court can order the seizure of the non-custodial parent’s assets, such as bank accounts or property, to pay child support arrears.
  • Suspension of Licenses: The court can suspend the non-custodial parent’s driver’s license, professional license, or any other license until they make their child support payments.

Child Support Modification

It is not uncommon for the circumstances of either party to change over time. This can affect their ability to make child support payments. If the non-custodial parent experiences a significant change in income or other financial obligations, they can request a modification of the child support order.

To modify an existing child support order, a petition must be filed with the court. Both parties must attend a hearing. The court will review the evidence and consider both parties’ financial situations to decide whether a modification is necessary. If the court finds that a modification is warranted, they will issue an amended child support order.


Q: Are child support payments taxable income?

A: No, child support payments are not considered taxable income for the recipient. Similarly, the paying parent cannot deduct the child support payments from their taxable income. However, the child support order may include a provision for the payment of alimony or spousal support. Those payments are generally considered taxable income for the recipient and tax-deductible for the paying parent.

Q: What happens to child support when the child reaches the age of 18 in St. Louis, MO?

A: In St. Louis, MO, child support typically ends when the child graduates from high school or turns 18, whichever occurs last. There are, however, several exclusions to this rule. For example, if the child has a disability requiring continued support, child support may continue beyond 18. It is vital to review the specific terms of the child support order to determine when support ends. If there is any confusion or disagreement about the termination date of child support, consult with an experienced family law attorney in St. Louis to help clarify the matter.

Q: What if the paying parent moves to a different state from Missouri?

A: In cases where the paying parent moves to a different state, the custodial parent may need to register their Missouri child support order in the new state. They must file a petition with the court in the new state. They must also provide a certified copy of the Missouri child support order. Once the order is registered in the new state, the court can enforce it as if it were an order issued by the new state. Each state may have its own rules and procedures for enforcing child support orders. It is advisable to consult with an attorney in the new state to ensure compliance with local laws.

Q: How should I introduce the concept of child support to my kids?

A: Talking about child support with your children can be difficult. However, they need to understand the importance of their parents’ obligations. Focus on how child support provides for the needs and safety of the children. Explain that both of their parents are expected to contribute financially. Explaining the concept simply and age-appropriately can help children better understand why child support is important and how it affects them. Additionally, if the parents can maintain an amicable relationship, they can discuss the issue together in a positive and helpful way for their children.

Contact Stange Law Firm in St. Louis

Consult with a qualified St. Louis family law attorney if you have any questions or concerns about child support. An experienced lawyer can help ensure that your child support obligations are properly enforced and that the interests of your children are considered. With the right legal representation, you can ensure that your child support order is fair and that both parties meet their financial obligations for years to come.