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Criminal Nonsupport

Overview

It is a crime in the state of Missouri when a parent fails to provide, without good cause, adequate support for a child that the parent is legally obligated to support. A parent may have a defense if he or she can show good cause as to why support was not provided. Good cause may include illness, incapacitation, or incarceration.

Criminal nonsupport can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine up to $1,000. Nonsupport can be charged as a felony if the obligated parent fails to pay six months within a twelve month period or has accumulated an arrearage in excess of five thousand dollars. A felony carries a sentence of up to four years in the Department of Corrections and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

The purpose of filing criminal nonsupport charges, like any criminal charge, is to punish the individual who broke the law—not collect money from them.

Procedures

If it is determined that criminal charges are appropriate, the custodial parent will receive an appointment letter. An appointment is set up with the assigned Child Support Enforcement Investigator.

A complaint, or information, is then filed with the court, and in some cases, a warrant is issued for the arrest of the obligated parent. After the arrest of the obligated parent, the custodial parent may be required to appear at court hearings and/or depositions.

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