Senate Bill 25 signed into Law: Changes to Missouri Child Support Law to Change on August 28, 2007

On July 13 of this year, Governor Matt Blunt signed Senate Bill 25 into law. This bill affects, among other things, the age of emancipation of children. Under the current law, child support will continue until the child reaches the age of 22 or graduates from college, whichever is sooner, provided that the child enrolled in college by October of the year that they graduated high school and remained continuously enrolled. Under the new law, the age is reduced to 21 with some additional requirements for the support obligation to continue.

The text of the new law pertaining to child support and enrollment in college, RSMo Section 452.340 is set forth below. Items in brackets are parts of the current law that are removed, and items in bold are the text of the new law:

Unless the circumstances of the child manifestly dictate otherwise and

the court specifically so provides, the obligation of a parent to make child support

payments shall terminate when the child:

(1) Dies;

(2) Marries;

(3) Enters active duty in the military;

(4) Becomes self-supporting, provided that the custodial parent has

relinquished the child from parental control by express or implied consent;

(5) Reaches age eighteen, unless the provisions of subsection 4 or 5 of this

section apply; or

(6) Reaches age [twenty-two] twenty-one, unless the provisions of the

child support order specifically extend the parental support order past the child's

[ twenty-second] twenty-first birthday for reasons provided by subsection 4 of

this section.

4. 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.

5. If when a child reaches age eighteen, 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, 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 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-two]

twenty-one, whichever first occurs. 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 credit hours, if the child

receives failing grades in half or more of his or her courseload 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 has pursued a path of continuous attendance and

has demonstrated evidence of a plan to continue to do so, the court may enter a

judgment abating support for a period of up to five months for any semester in

which the child completes at least six but less than twelve credit hours; however,

such five-month period of abatement shall only be granted one time for each

child.] 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 junior college, community college,

college, or university at which the child attends classes regularly. A child who

has been diagnosed with a [learning] developmental disability, as defined in

section 630.005, RSMo, 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 hours per week during the semester may take as few

as nine credit hours per semester and remain eligible for child support so long as

all other requirements of this subsection are complied with.

The bill also contains modifications to other statutes pertaining to child support, foster parents, and child protection and reformation. The entire bill can be read here.

Categories: Child Support