Child Support is one of the most important determinations that a court will make in a divorce or paternity proceeding. The Amount of Child Support someone pays or receives in the state of Missouri is determined by a number of factors that take into consideration the needs of a child and the income of each parent. Sometimes these factors can change from the time of the original court order. When there is a significant and ongoing change in circumstance, a parent paying or receiving child support can ask for a Motion to Modify Child Support by presenting evidence to the court. The grounds for modification of any judgment of maintenance or support may be modified only upon the showing of a change in circumstance, so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of the original judgment unreasonable.

Contrary to popular belief, both parents have an obligation to provide support to children of divorce or separation, not just the non-residential parent. The amount of the obligation each parent has is based upon statutory factors that take into consideration the respective income of each parent as well as the time each parent spends with the children.

In the state of Missouri, parenting time is not dependent on the timely payment of child support. Visitation time cannot be withheld from a person who has been awarded that time simply because the other parent decides to not comply with the court order. The police generally do not get involved in attempting to enforce a court order. The parenting time scheduled in a judgment is an enforceable court order and usually needs to be address by the court with jurisdiction over that order. A parent who has been denied court-ordered parenting time may apply for enforcement by the court by filing a “Family Access Motion”.

If the parties are unable to agree upon an appropriate amount of child support, a Judge will make this determination after considering income and perhaps expensive evidence. In almost every case, one parent will be ordered to provide monthly child support payments to the other parent. The court will almost always calculate the amount of child support using the Missouri Child Support Guidelines.

The Guidelines are based on the gross incomes of the parents and the number of nights that the children spend with each parent. A Judge is permitted to deviate from the resulting child support figures but only if extraordinary circumstances warrant such a deviation.

West County Family Law represents clients requiring assistance and advice in family law matters relating to child support, modification of child support and child support enforcement.

Both child custody and child support are issues that can be raised initially or be modified at any time prior to a child’s reaching age 18, is emancipated or graduates, depending on the circumstance. Either parent can petition the court to change its prior custody or support order based on proving that there has been a substantial change in the overall circumstances affecting the welfare of the children.

Termination of Child Support

All child support obligations continue until the child reaches the age of 18, unless the child is legally emancipated sooner. If the child is attending primary or secondary school when he or she reaches age 18, the court will order support payments to continue until graduation, unless the child fails to attend school on a regular basis or reaches age 21, whichever occurs first.

A parent may agree to pay child support beyond these time periods but the court does not have the authority to require a parent to pay for a child's college education. A Court does not have the authority to require a parent to maintain life insurance for the benefit of a child.


The short answer is age 18*, unless attending vocational or higher education, in which case it can extend to age 21. If the support is to extend because the child is pursuing his or her education, some very important requirements must be met or the support could terminate. A portion of the Missouri statute (Section 452.340) is set forth below. Follow it precisely to take advantage of the extension of child support past age 18 for educational purposes. *(Another reason for extending support past 18 is if the child is unable to support himself /herself due to a physical or mental disability. Also, if, when a child reaches age eighteen (18), the child is enrolled in and attending a secondary school program of instruction, the parental support obligation shall continue IF the child continues to attend and progresses toward completion of said program, until the child completes such program OR reaches age twenty-one (21), whichever first occurs.)


If the child is enrolled in an institution of vocational or higher education not later than October first following graduation from a secondary school or completion of a graduation equivalence degree program and so long as the child:

- enrolls for and completes at least twelve (12) hours of credit each semester, not including the summer semester, at an institution of vocational or higher education and:

- achieves grades sufficient to reenroll at such institution, the parental support obligation shall continue until the child completes his or her education, or until the child reaches the age of twenty-one (21), whichever first occurs.

Important requirements:

TO REMAIN ELIGIBLE for such continued parental support, at the beginning of each semester the child shall submit to each parent a transcript or similar official document provided by the institution of vocational or higher education which includes:

- the courses the child is enrolled in and has completed for each term,

- the grades and credits received for each such course, and

- an official document from the institution listing the courses which the child is enrolled in for the upcoming term and the number of credits for each such course.

When enrolled in at least twelve (12) credit hours, if the child receives failing grades in half or more of his or her course load in any one semester, payment of child support may be terminated and shall not be eligible for reinstatement. Upon request for notification of the child's grades by the noncustodial parent, the child shall produce the required documents to the noncustodial parent within thirty days of receipt of grades from the education institution. If the child fails to produce the required documents, payment of child support may terminate without the accrual of any child support arrearage and shall not be eligible for reinstatement. If the circumstances of the child manifestly dictate, the court may waive the October first deadline for enrollment required by this subsection. If the child is enrolled in such an institution, the child or parent obligated to pay support may petition the court to amend the order to direct the obligated parent to make the payments directly to the child.

As used in this section, an "institution of vocational education" means any postsecondary training or schooling for which the student is assessed a fee and attends classes regularly. "Higher education" means any community college, college, or university at which the child attends classes regularly. A child who has been diagnosed with a developmental disability, as defined in Section 630.005, or whose physical disability or diagnosed health problem limits the child's ability to carry the number of credit hours prescribed in this subsection, shall remain eligible for child support so long as such child is enrolled in and attending an institution of vocational or higher education, and the child continues to meet the other requirements of this subsection. A child who is employed at least fifteen (15) hours per week during the semester may take as few as nine (9) credit hours per semester and remain eligible for child support so long as all other requirements of this subsection are complied with.

​Section 452.340 Revised Statutes of Missouri, emphasis added​

Experienced Service and Legal Counsel

Our goal at West County Family Law is to provide the highest quality of experience, service and legal counsel. With more than 65 years of experience, attorneys Case & Rajnoha are capable of handling many types of legal matters. Founded in 1975, West County Family Law's trademark has been prompt, personal attention. Our success has been our dedication to our clients and protecting their best interests and rights. Our clients deserve to be well-represented, with quality legal services provided by a dedicated team of attorneys and paralegals. We pride ourselves in our personal service by making sure we are available for our client throughout the legal process.

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West County Family Law is located in Ballwin, Missouri, and serves the cities of St. Louis, Chesterfield, Fenton, Valley Park, Clayton, Creve Coeur, Kirkwood, Des Peres, Webster Groves, Manchester, Eureka, Hillsboro, Maryland Heights, Town and Country, Ellisville, Frontenac, Wildwood, Ladue and Crestwood. We also serve other communities in St. Louis County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County, West County and South County.