The Duty to Pay Child Support
In virtually every human society, a parent is expected to provide their children with sufficient financial support to secure necessities, such as food, shelter, schooling, and necessary medical care. The pervasiveness of this moral value likely stems from an instinctive human drive to ensure the survival of our species by protecting our progeny.
In many societies, including America, this value has been codified as a rule of law. Throughout the United States, jurisdictions impose a legal duty on all parents to provide for the financial needs of their children. Generally, this duty only lasts until a child turns 18—at which point, the law presumes that a person has the capacity and maturity to handle their personal and financial affairs on their own.
Extending Child Support Past the Age of 18
In some jurisdictions, including Missouri, a parent’s duty to pay child support may continue past the child’s 18th birthday if they lack the mental or physical capacity to handle their own affairs.
Missouri Statutes § 452.340.4 provides that “If the child is physically or mentally incapacitated from supporting himself and insolvent and unmarried, the court may extend the parental support obligation past the child’s eighteenth birthday.”
Courts have interpreted the term “insolvent” as an inability to satisfy financial obligations—such as the payment of debts—in the ordinary course of business.
To demonstrate insolvency, a parent can submit the following as evidence:
- Paystubs showing the child’s earnings
- Medical bills for the child’s needs
- Documents relating to government disability benefits for the child
Additionally, a request to extend child support past the 18th birthday of an adult child with special needs must be supported by evidence that the child has the physical ability to pay for their living expenses, but cannot due to some mental incompetency.
Proof of a child’s mental incapacity may include:
- Expert medical testimony about the child’s mental disability
- Letters of guardianship issued by a probate court
- A parent’s lay testimony based on first-hand knowledge of their child’s disability
- Documents connected to eligibility for government disability benefits
Consult Kallen Law Firm, LLC for Legal Representation in Family Law Matters
Have you been confronted with a legal action regarding a family law issue under Missouri law? If so, you will most likely benefit from the professional advice and advocacy of a dedicated family lawyer from Kallen Law Firm, LLC. When it comes to protecting the legal and financial interests of our clients, you can count on attorneys Craig G. Kallen and Rachel S. Gray to deliver sound legal advice and zealous advocacy in cases ranging from child support to the modification of divorce orders.
For a free consultation, please call Kallen Law Firm, LLC at (314) 441-7793 or contact us online today.