Administrative Child Support
In addition to child-support obligations that are initiated in court by a judge, child-support may also be initiated administratively. At the request of either parent, the Missouri Department of Social Services – Family Support Division may initiate a child-support obligation. Typically, the custodial parent is the parent that requests the institution of the child-support obligation. Once the Family Support Division has determined their proposed amount of the child-support obligation, it will notify the responding parent of the administrative proceedings and apprise that parent of a hearing date at which the parent may contest the parent’s relationship to the child and the amount of the child-support obligation. Contact an attorney at the Zolman Law Firm in St. Louis today for a free consultation to discuss the administrative child-support options available to you.
It is important for parents to discuss their child-support options with an attorney because there are advantages and disadvantages to an administrative child-support action for both parents. A requesting parent may prefer the administrative mechanism because the Division of Family Services is not authorized to apportion child-custody between the parents. So, for a requesting parent that only wants the other parent to pay child-support, and does not want the other parent to have contact with the child, the administrative option may be the way to go. Other advantages of the administrative process for the requesting party are the savings in money. However, while a requesting parent will expend less money obtaining an administrative child-support obligation, the judicial mechanism may be the preferred alternative due to various administrative limitations. In determining the amount of the child-support obligation, the Division of Family Services is limited to considering a finite set of facts and circumstances to determine the amount of the obligation, such as income and child-care expenses. A judge has no such limitations and is free to consider any facts and circumstances that may be relevant to the child-support determination. So, for a parent whose child has medical expenses that are not covered by insurance or who wants the other parent to contribute to the child’s eventual college education, the judicial mechanism may be a better option.
For parents that are responding to an administrative child-support action, the disadvantages of the administrative process often outweigh the advantages. The responding parent will also expend less money responding to an administrative action relative to the judicial alternative; however, these are short-term savings. While the Division of Family Services is limited to making a child-support determination, judges have the power to apportion child-custody between the parents. One of the factors affecting the amount of a child-support obligation is the visitation credit. The visitation credit reduces the child-support obligation based on the amount of custody time awarded to the support-paying parent. Application of the visitation credit may reduce the amount of a child support obligation by as much as fifty-percent. Even if the administrative child-support proceedings have already begun, an experienced child-support attorney can often have the case transferred from the Division of Family Services to the appropriate circuit court. Contact the Zolman Law Firm today for a free consultation to discuss the child support mechanism that is right for you.
Even if the responding parent is content with using the Administrative Process, it is highly possible that DFS will incorrectly calculate the amount of child support that you owe. It is well worth your time and money to have a knowledgeable family law attorney work through the child support calculation that DFS used to arrive at their child support number. Even a child support amount that is higher than it should be by “just a little bit” can result in you paying thousands of extra child support over the years ahead of you.