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My oldest child turned 18, shouldn’t my support payment drop?

The issue of child support can present a lot of complications. Those with experience in dealing with such matters under Missouri law know that a so-called “calculator” is used to set levels of payment for parents. But in our computer-dominated world, there is truth in the phrase “garbage in, garbage out.”

If the information provided at the time support determinations are made isn’t accurate, the child suffers. He or she doesn’t get the full support they are due under the law. It is also not uncommon that if one parent is the main caregiver for a child, the other parent is expected to pick up the greater share of the financial tab.

As with most things, however, child support does end. State law dictates payments be made until a child turns 18 in most cases. That might lead a parent who is paying support for more than one child to think that when the first reaches the age of majority, it should mean that the amount owed in child support should go down. That is not how the law calculator works.

Payments are not based on a child-specific calculation. Rather, they are based on a general assessment of the number of children involved, their needs and the income capabilities of both parents. So, if a parent of two children is paying $250 a month in support, the amount isn’t cut in half when one reaches legal adulthood.

This does not mean that modifications are not possible. The thing to keep in mind is that any order issued by the court will carry more weight than any agreement reached outside of the system, so when change is needed it’s recommended that you work with experienced counsel.