Prosecuting Attorney's Office:
Child Support Unit
The Child Support Unit of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office is located in the Jefferson County Courthouse, 300 Main Street, Ground Floor, Hillsboro, Missouri 63050. The mailing address is P.O. Box 100, Hillsboro, Missouri 63050.
Office Hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The telephone numbers are (636)797-5338 and (636)797-5339. The fax number is (636)797-5551.
The Child Support Unit consists of one (1) Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and six (6) support staff.
Child Support Sections
The Child Support Enforcement program in the State of Missouri is administered by the Department of Social Services, Family Support Division (FSD). Missouri has enacted laws that allow FSD to collect child support through wage withholdings, garnishments, unemployment and tax intercepts and liens without filing a collection action in court.
Child Support services through FSD are available without cost to all Missouri residents and are provided automatically to custodial parents who receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families payments for dependent children through the Division of Family Services. The Division of Child Supportment Enforcement office serving Jefferson County is located at 4626 Yeager Road, Hillsboro, Missouri 63050. The telephone number is (636)797-9840.
There are some actions that cannot be handled administratively by FSD. In those situations, FSD will make referral to the appropriate Prosecuting Attorney's office. Jefferson County only works cases referred by FSD. The office does not initiate cases on its own. The Prosecuting Attorney's office will file the appropriate pleadings and process the case through the court system.
The most recent and wide sweeping change in Missouri's Child Support Program is centralized payment processing. Prior to October 1, 1999, child support payments were processed in the county where the order was entered. Beginning October 1999, the majority of child support payments paid in Missouri are processed through the Family Support Payment Center located in Jefferson City, Missouri. For information or to ask questions, custodial parents, non-custodial parents and employers can call 1-800-558-8224. To check payments collected and disbursed, call 1-800-225-0530.
Referrals are sent from the Family Support Division (FSD) to this office requesting enforcement of child support orders that have already been established by either a divorce decree or other type of judicial action.
When the referral is received, the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney reviews referral and determines the appropriate legal action that needs to be taken.
One option for enforcement is to file an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause requires the person that owes the support (the non-custodial parent) to appear in court and explain why they should not by held in contempt for failure to pay the court ordered child support. The custodial parent will receive notification of the date and time of the hearing and a letter explaining the procedure. \
In order for the hearing to take place the non-custodial parent must be personally served with the motion and order at least seven days prior to the hearing date. If service cannot be obtained, this office will attempt to locate the non-custodial parent and file another motion or Order to Show Cause.
Simply because a hearing is held, it does not mean that the non-custodial parent will be found in contempt and put in jail. Generally, the court will allow the non-custodial parent to begin making payments and to establish a payment record. The hearing will be continued to another date in order to allow the non-custodial parent time to comply with the order. The hearing may be continued many times if this will ensure that the non-custodial parent pays. The custodial parent will receive notice of all court dates.
If the non-custodial parent chooses not to comply with the Order to Show Cause and fails to make the required payments, they may be found in contempt and sentenced to serve a period of time in jail. The finding of contempt and the length of time spent in jail are decisions for the court.
If the non-custodial parent does not appear, the court will issue a Writ of Body Attachment for failure to appear. There will be a cash only bond set that equals the amount of the arrearage owed. The Body Attachment will stay active until the non-custodial parent is arrested or the writ is withdrawn.
The failure of a parent to support a minor child that the parent is legally obligated to support is a crime in the State of Missouri. Nonsupport may 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.
The obligated parent may have a defense to the charge if they can show good cause as to why support was not provided. Good cause may be illness, incapacitation or incarceration.
The purpose in filing a criminal nonsupport charge, like any other criminal charge, is to punish the offending party. The purpose is not to force the non-custodial parent to comply with the court order, as it is in civil contempt proceedings. The obligated parent is afforded all of the rights guaranteed to any other criminal defendant.
If it is determined that criminal charges are the appropriate action to take, the custodial parent will receive an informational letter, a questionnaire to fill out and a criminal complaint form that must be signed and returned to this office. The complaint is then filed with the court and, in the filing of a felony, 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 the court hearings and possibly given a deposition.
Again, the purpose of filing criminal charges is to punish the individual who broke the law and not collect money from them.
A referral is received from the Family Support Division (FSD) when the paternity of a child is at issue. The custodial parent will receive a letter from the Prosecuting Attorney's office indicating an appointment date and time and a list of documents that the custodial parent needs to bring to the appointment.
A custodial parent that receives Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits must cooperate with this office or those benefits will be sanctioned. If a custodial parent that does not receive State benefits does not cooperate with this office, the referral will be closed and returned to FSD.
At the appointment the custodial parent will meet with the Assistant Prosecutor and sign paperwork necessary to file a paternity action in court. At that time, questions will be answered and legal procedures will be explained. The Prosecuting Attorney's Office does not represent the custodial parent or the child in a paternity action. This office represents the State of Missouri's interests. This office cannot be involved in custody or visitation issues.
This office will process the case through the court system and prepare the final judgment. Once a judgment is obtained the referral is closed and the case is sent back to FSD for enforcement of the child support order.
Interstate Child Support Issues
If the non-custodial parent resides in another state, and Missouri does not have legal jurisdiction over the non-custodial parent, an action will be filed in that state using the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).
Child support orders may be enforced or established through UIFSA. Paternity can also be established through the UIFSA.
When the referral is received from FSD, the custodial parent will receive paperwork that must be filled out and returned to the Prosecuting Attorney's office. The paperwork will then be sent to the state where the non-custodial parent lives and that state will take the necessary legal action.
This office will monitor the progress of the case by sending status requests to the responding state at regular intervals.