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Melissa A. Featherston

Know your Missouri child support rights to recoup overdue money

Missouri parents involved in legal battles over child support are familiar with how stressful they can be. Many single parents struggle when they don't receive their child support payments, and it can be stressful to try to make ends meet when no help from the other person. Parents in this situation fortunately have legal options available to them to help receive their payments or ensure the other parent is held accountable for their non-payment.

A man from another state has been arrested and is accused of owing $80,000 in back child support in just one county. The man is required to pay child support for 14 children but is also named in an additional 15 paternity cases filed by nine different women. His problems began in the early 1980s but have continued with the most recent child support filing coming in 2011.

The Nebraska man was arrested recently on 11 bench warrants. Although he was released, the judge immediately found him in contempt on each of the 11 counts and sentenced him to more than four years in prison. The sentence was suspended, however, and he has been offered the opportunity to make good on his debts. To avoid serving the prison sentence, the man must begin to pay the money back by Dec. 1.

Most child support cases don't involve this many children or the amount of money involved. When it comes to child support, though, the volume of payments owed is less important than the fact that any money is owed. Not receiving child support can be extremely stressful for custodial parents who likely have to scrape to take care of their children when the owed support doesn't come in. Knowing one's legal rights can help make it easier for parents to pursue overdue child support in Missouri and ensure they receive what they are entitled to under the law.

At the same time, if a parent owing support can't make the payments for some reason of changed life circumstance, modifications can be sought. It doesn't pay to just let things ride, as this case shows.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, "Man owes $80K in back child support; has 15 paternity cases," Jonathan Edwards, Oct. 25, 2012

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