Criminal Nonsupport

In the State of Missouri, it is a crime for a parent to knowingly fail to provide adequate support for a child for whom 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 any substantial reason why the parent is unable to provide adequate support.

Criminal nonsupport may 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 $2,000. Nonsupport may be charged as a felony if the total arrearage is in excess of an aggregate of twelve monthly payments due under an order by a court or authorized administrative agency. A felony carries a sentence of up to four years in the Department of Corrections and/or a fine of up to $10,000.


When a case is referred by the Department of Social Services - Family Support Division (DSS-FSD), the Child Support Unit staff will contact the custodial parent or other custodian. It is important to keep contact information current. The facts and circumstances of the case will be assessed to determine if a criminal charge is appropriate and what level of criminal charge(s) might be filed. If the decision is made to prosecute, a complaint or information will be filed with the court and in some cases a warrant is issued for the arrest of the obligated parent. After the arrest or summons of the obligated parent, the custodial parent may be required to appear at court hearings and/or depositions.