Survivors of sexual and domestic violence frequently share children with an abuser. When leaving the abusive situation, unanticipated needs come up, particularly with regards to the children. This leaves many survivors needing some form of financial support from the other parent.
Under Missouri law, there are a few different ways to get child support ordered, including:
- Orders of Protection
- State of Missouri’s Department of Social Services
- Family Court Order
Depending on your specific circumstances, one or several of these options may be right for you. Consider your larger purpose before choosing which avenue through which you look to obtain child support.
Orders of Protection
Orders of protection, commonly called “restraining orders,” are crisis orders that help protect survivors from future abuse and harm. The purpose of an order of protection is to immediately respond to an incident of abuse and give you a tool to keep yourself safe from threats of future abuse. If you share children with the alleged abuser you are filing an order of protection against, then the court may issue a temporary award of child support to help support the children until a long-term arrangement can be made. While orders of protection are relatively quick ways to get child support ordered, its primary purpose is not to establish any sort of financial arrangement. Any child support order that comes from an order of protection is temporary. If a judge foresees custody becoming an issue in the future, they may even choose not to address child support at all in the order of protection.
State of Missouri
The most effective way for most people to get child support is to go directly through the State of Missouri’s Department of Social Services. This will allow you to start a child support case without bringing up any tangential issues like custody or abuse. Unlike the other options, a child support case with the state can also run simultaneously with other court cases, resulting in the most efficient turn-around time for most child support orders. For example, you can file a child support case with the state while also filing a custody case in family court. This may result in a child support decision before the conclusion of the custody case. This means that most people receive their money faster and more consistently than they do by other methods.
When you go to family court for a child custody case (including a divorce case between parents who share children), then child support will automatically become a part of that case. This means that you can get child support ordered or modified in family court. This works well because it allows custody and support to be handled simultaneously, allowing for flexibility and less paperwork on your end. Because custody cases may take some time, though, it may not be the most efficient way to get a long-term child support order.
Regardless of which method you choose, you can estimate how much you will receive and/or owe in child support by doing a mathematical calculation using a document called the Form 14. You can do this calculation online at www.freeform14.com.
Do you have questions about child support?
If you have experienced any type of sexual abuse and have questions about the legal process in the aftermath of that abuse, you can CLICK HERE to schedule a no-cost phone consultation with an attorney at Jane Doe Advocacy Center.