Enforcing Orders

Enforcement of child support orders may be by criminal or civil process, and non-custodial parents may be pursued both in- and out-of-state. Upon receiving a referral for enforcement, this office mails an enforcement questionnaire (PDF) to the custodial parent, which must be completed and returned.

Criminal Enforcement
In the State of Missouri, it is a crime for a parent to knowingly fail to provide, without good cause, adequate support, which such parent is legally obligated to provide for his or her child or stepchild who is not otherwise emancipated by operation of law. View the statute.

Charges
This crime, known as "criminal nonsupport," may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or a Class D felony, depending on the circumstances of the case. Every criminal nonsupport case is individually reviewed and assessed by a prosecutor to determine the most appropriate charge or charges to be filed.

The maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor is 1 year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. The maximum sentence for a Class D felony is 4 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections and a $5,000 fine.

If a child support prosecutor determines criminal charges are appropriate, the custodial parent will receive additional information or documents from this office, some of which may require the custodial parent's signature. The custodial parent's participation in court hearings, depositions, or a trial is often required.

Civil Enforcement
Under limited circumstances, this office pursues enforcement of child support orders via civil contempt actions. Civil contempt is not a statutory remedy for enforcing a child support order.

If a child support prosecutor determines civil contempt proceedings are appropriate, the custodial parent will receive additional information or documents from this office, some of which may require the custodial parent's signature. The custodial parent's participation in court hearings may be required.