29 Sep Using a Missouri Form 14
What is a Missouri Form 14?
Child support is ordered during a divorce or paternity/custody action. It can also be addressed in a modification of either. When child support is litigated, both parties must hand in a Form 14 to the Judge, and the Judge must consider the numbers presented. They are not necessarily binding and can be negotiated around and mitigated, but the Form 14 is the gold standard for determining child support amounts. It is a form that balances both incomes, the number of overnight visits, and extra costs into a mathematical formula that then computes the amount of child support that will be owed to the parent.
Why is a Form 14 Used?
The Form 14 was originated in an attempt to provide uniformity to child support litigation. While there is a legal standard for child support, that standard was being applied differently from county to county and Judge to Judge. In an attempt to provide predictability and to remove the emotions from the calculation, the Form 14 was created.
How is Child Support Assessed Using a Form 14?
A Form 14 is basically a guide. Child support is assessed during an analysis of a multitude of factors:
- The needs and resources of the Child(ren)
- The needs and resources of the Parents
- The standard of living that the child is accustomed to
- The physical and emotional condition of the child and any special considerations
- The physical and legal custody split, i.e. how much time is the child spending with each parent and
- Work-related expenses of rearing the child
The creators of the Form 14 believed that all six factors were taken into account when creating the form. For instance, the income of each parent is part of the formula as well as extra expenses of each parent, such as health insurance. Extracurricular activities/educational charges are included in the form. The number of overnight visits is used in the formula. Tax credits and daycare costs are included in the form. By gathering all of the information the creators believed were indicative of the six factors, the Form 14 is supposed to come up with an unbiased figure.
The number generated is not the final word on child support. It is still possible to negotiate child support based upon your specific circumstances.
The Implications of the Form 14
The Form 14 mechanizes an emotional analysis. It attempts to deduce the parents lives and child’s needs and resources into a single page. Certainly the Form 14 is useful, and it is always used as a comparison or jumping off point. Whether or not it is the final word in your situation will depend largely upon you, your spouse’s and your child(ren)’s situations. It is important to note that using the Form 14 has implications down the road.
In order to modify a child support order, the moving party must show a substantial change in circumstances that makes the original support order unreasonable. If your support order was based upon the Form 14, then a 20% change is a threshold showing (but may not be sufficient alone) to allow a modification. If the Form 14 was not used, then a 20% change may be a factor, but it will influence the Court significantly less. You will have to do more legwork showing how the situation has changed and how that change has made the support amount unreasonable.
Child support can be a difficult arena to navigate alone. If you have any questions about your situation, you can contact my office for a free case assessment at 314.782.3500.