Our society is organized to support a nuclear family. If you and your loved ones do not operate this way, or you are going through a divorce, it can be difficult to navigate the co-parenting process. It is common to encounter challenges, roadblocks, and questions along the way.

The law requires both of a child’s parents to contribute equally to their upbringing in some way. However, just as there are many ways to organize your family, there are several ways to contribute to a child’s upbringing. Child support is one of them.

Unfortunately, many people misunderstand child support, or they simply never learn the details of this system. If you are co-parenting with your child’s other parent while living apart, it is important that you know and understand how child support works.

The Basics of Child Support

Child support is a monthly payment that one parent makes to another parent. This money is intended to contribute to the expenses of a shared child’s upbringing. Family court assigns child support payments based on each parent’s income, the child’s needs, and the amount of custody that each parent has.

Child support payments are a key way for the state to ensure that parents are contributing equally to their child. In some cases, child support is not required because both parents have equal custody and have approximately equal incomes. Child support is usually granted when one parent has sole or majority custody, one parent makes vastly more money than the other, or both.

For example, a mother may have to pay child support to her child’s father if the father has sole custody. However, if the mother and father have equal custody, but the mother makes $100,000 per year while the father makes $40,000 per year, the mother may still have to pay child support even though she has equal custody. This is because the state wants the contributions to be an equitable portion of each parent’s income.

Government Involvement in Child Support

Some parents may make informal child support agreements on their own. However, it is much safer and more advantageous for all to go through the court system. In some cases, this may be unavoidable.

The state assigns child support based on a complex and precise calculation. This equation ensures that no parent is paying too much for child support. It also allows for modifications if a parent’s financial status changes. When the parent makes their payments, they go through a state-run electronic system to keep track of the payments and hold parents accountable. This system also helps parents incorporate child support into their taxes each year.

If you attempt to make a child support agreement without the court, it is impossible for the state to enforce your agreement. If your child’s other parent refuses to pay, or suddenly demands more money, there is nothing the law can do to help you. However, if these situations occur after a court-created child support system has been created, the law can assist with any challenges that you encounter.

Hiring an Attorney for Child Support Negotiations

In many cases, child support negotiations occur during divorce proceedings, but this is not always true. Regardless of your situation, it is beneficial to have an attorney on your side. Your child support attorney can:

  • Advocate for your needs.
  • Negotiate a more favorable agreement.
  • Protect your rights in court.

Many people who hire an attorney for their child support negotiations feel more confident about their agreement and yield better terms.


Q: Do I Have to Pay Child Support If the Court Won’t Let Me Have Custody?

A: The court can still ask you to pay child support even if they will not allow you to have custody. This may seem unfair, especially if you would prefer to contribute via custody rather than financial support. However, the court determines custody agreements based on what is most beneficial for the children. They assess each parent’s ability to provide a safe home and assign custody based on their findings. Talk to an attorney if you are unhappy with your child support agreement.

Q: Can Fathers Receive Child Support?

A: The gender of the parents does not affect the child support agreement. The court will assign support based on several other factors, such as income, custody, and lifestyle. There are situations in which a mother cannot care for her child and the father has sole custody. In these scenarios, it would be appropriate for a father to receive child support from the child’s mother. An attorney can ensure that the court is acting fairly regarding gender.

Q: How Much Does a Child Support Attorney Cost?

A: Due to the nature of their cases, many family attorneys charge hourly. The average family lawyer charges between $100 and $400 per hour for child support claims. However, all firms have different policies, and attorney rates often depend on experience in the field. To be sure you can afford your child support attorney, ask any potential attorneys about their costs and fees. This way, you can make an informed decision about which law firm or attorney is right for you.

Q: Can I Change My Child Support Agreement?

A: Yes, it is possible to change your child support agreement with the help of the court. Family court allows for modifications. These are specific processes by which a family can make updates or changes to their family law agreements. For this to be considered, relevant circumstances must have changed within your family. If nothing has changed, and you are simply unhappy with your child support agreement, you can file an appeal rather than a modification.

Contact Stange Law Firm in St. Louis

Our team has many years of experience representing parents as they negotiate child support agreements. During our time in business, we have represented a wide range of families in a multitude of situations. We are confident that we have the knowledge and experience to represent you in your family law case.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, contact Stange Law Firm.