The Law Office of Kurt H King

June 14, 2013

Child Support In Missouri When Neither Parent Has Custody

Filed under: Custody,Divorce,Family Law,Paternity,Support,Uncategorized — kurthking @ 2:01 pm
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When the child is a minor and neither parent has custody, a case for child support can be initiated for the child by a state agency, a guardian, or third person providing support as next friend for the minor child.

But what about an adult son or daughter over the age of 18 in college living with neither parent?  While child support generally continues until the the child reaches age 21 for those who go on to college or other certain other post-high school education, who can bring a case in court for support of the adult child not yet 21 who left both parents behind (or vice versa) for whatever reason and is taking the required class load and working part-time?

First, can a parent file for the other parent to pay support when the child lives on his/her own or with third persons?

Law:  Where an adult child not yet 21 years of age is not living with either parent–i.e., on their own or living with friends–and attending college or such, and neither parent is making a financial contribution to the child’s expenses, then neither parent is sufficiently affected by the non-payment of child support by the other so as to be able to sue for child support from the other parent.  See Higginbotham v. Higginbotham, 362 S.W.3d 34, 36-37 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D. 2012) (daughter could not sue for child support ordered paid by mother to the grandmother).

And see Denton v. Sims, 884 S.W.2d 86, 89 hn. 5 (Mo. Ct. App. E.D. 1994), where the court of appeals reversed the trial court by ruling that the mother was not entitled to retroactive child support for one of three children  “for a period of time when she was not supporting daughter and daughter was not living with her.”  The daughter lived with a third-party and mother then made “no financial contribution to her upbringing.”

Second, if the parents cannot sue, can such an adult child entitled to support sue one or both parents in those circumstances?

Despite a dearth of Missouri cases on this point, there seems to be no reason why the adult child could not sue in his or her own name for support just as an adult could bring other cases in court.  But, this does not appear to be happening as a practical matter.  Presumably, adult children having flown or been kicked out of  the family nest are not of the mindset to turn back and sue a parent for support.  Maybe it is pride, but certainly it is psychologically difficult to sue to your parents.  And so, while it can happen, it doesn’t.

Lastly, if the lot of such an adult child not yet 21 trying to make it in the world and get a college or similar education, without support from the parents, seems unfair, REMEMBER: life is not fair, and Missouri law does not require parents still married to support their children after high school either.  For some reason, divorced parents can be ordered to pay support during college generally until the child turns 21, but married parents need not.  One of life’s little injustices?

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

816.781.6000

Family Law, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, General Matters

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