The Christian County Prosecutor’s Office is a member of the Springfield Regional Prosecutors’ Child Support Office (SRPCSO). The SRPCSO serves Greene, Christian, and Taney counties, and the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office acts as the host county. The office is located at 1442 N. Robberson Ave., Ste. 600, Springfield, Missouri, 65802. Even though Christian County cases are handled by staff in that office, all child support cases filed in Christian County are still heard at 110 W. Elm Street in Ozark at the Christian County Judicial Center. Also, if you need to meet with staff to assist them in prosecuting your case, you can meet with them in our Christian County Prosecutor’s Office.
You may telephone the Springfield Regional Child Support Office at (417) 868-4126, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
For more information on the Springfield Regional Child Support Office, please visit the Greene County Prosecutor’s website.
WHO THEY ARE
Cheri Cobb, Child Support Prosecutor
Cheri joined the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office in December of 2016. She received her B.A. in Criminology with a minor in Sociology from Drury College (now University) in 1996. Cheri graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law in 1999.
Cheri currently serves as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in the Child Support Unit of the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Springfield, MO covering Christian and Taney Counties. She previously served as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Christian County, Missouri from February 2015 until November 2016, as Part-Time Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Webster County, Missouri from September 2011 – December 2015, and as a contract Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Springfield, Missouri from 2001 – 2006. She owned and operated her own law practice from 2005 to 2015.
WHAT THEY DO
The Child Support Division handles four types of support cases:
1. Paternity actions for children who are born out of wedlock and the establishment of a child support order for the support of that child.
2. Enforcement of existing child support orders.
3. Initiating and responding to cases involving the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
4. Other requests made by the State of Missouri, Family Support Division (FSD).
In all the above cases, the SRPCSO represents the State of Missouri and cannot proceed on any action without a referral from the Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division. WE CANNOT GIVE OUT LEGAL ADVICE. If you have questions please contact the Missouri Department of Social Services at http://www.dss.mo.gov/cse/.
CHILD SUPPORT IN MISSOURI
The child support enforcement program in Missouri is handled by two main agencies: the Family Support Division (FSD) and County Prosecutor’s Offices across the state.
The Family Support Division is the primary agency that handles child support in Missouri. If they can resolve the case, then they retain the case. If they cannot resolve the case, then they will refer it to our office. Once FSD refers the case to our office, the law sets out specific time frames for the case to be resolved. We cannot act on your case until we receive it from FSD.
Once a paternity action is referred to our office, we file a Petition for Declaration of Paternity with the court and request genetic testing on any party that has not already cooperated with FSD to do so. After the parties are served, the Court orders genetic testing to determine if a named party is the father of the child. The laboratory test report will show if a man is excluded (0%) or up to a 99.99999999% probability of paternity that he is the father. As long as the probability of paternity is over 98%, the law will find that this man is the presumed biological father. Once there is proof of paternity, a hearing is held by the Court to obtain a Judgement and Order establishing paternity and a support order for the child. The length of time needed for this process ranges from four (4) to twelve (12) months and depends upon how quickly paternity is established or if any other issues are raised.
Criminal: Statutory authority allows prosecuting attorneys to charge Criminal Non-Support as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in the Christian County Jail and/or a fine up to Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000). A felony carries a sentence of up to four years in the Department of Corrections and/or a fine of up to Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000). If probation is ordered, usually it lasts two (2) years for a misdemeanor and five (5) years for a felony.
Civil: If the prosecuting attorney decides that a civil action if appropriate to enforce a child support order, this Office will file a Motion for Contempt against the non-paying parent (Payor). That Payor must be served by the sheriff with the Motion for Contempt and an Order to Show Cause for the Payor to appear and show the Court that s/he should not be held in contempt. The Payor is directed to appear in court on a certain date. At this initial appearance, our office will seek to make a payment plan with the Payor. If an agreement is made, the case will be continued so the court can monitor the Payor’s compliance with the agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case is set for a hearing. At the hearing, our office has to prove the following: that there was an order in Christian County; that Payor knew of the order; and that Payor is not paying as directed by the order. The Payor then must show that s/he had good cause for not paying as directed by the order. If the Payor fails to establish good cause, the Judge may find the Payor to be in contempt of court and can order the Payor to be committed to the Christian County jail until such time as s/he purges him/herself of the contempt by paying a specific amount of money set by the court.
RELATED ACTIONS NOT HANDLED BY THIS OFFICE
Modifications: The Office of the Prosecuting Attorney does not have authority to litigate modification cases. The Family Support Division (FSD) does handle modifications. They require that 1) the last order be more than three years old, and 2) that a Form 14 with current information shows a twenty percent or more change from the last amount that was ordered. In certain circumstances, FSD may seek a modification of a court order sooner than three years, although the criterion is stringent. You should be aware that if you ask for FSD to modify the child support order, it may go up or down. FSD will review the case and enter a new order, either way, if appropriate. If you want FSD to review your child support order, it is free, but you need to make a written request for them to review it. Please send your written request to Family Support Division, PO BOX 6790, Jefferson City, MO 65102-6790.
Visitation and custody: Neither FSD nor our office has the authority or ability to resolve these issues. PLEASE CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. WE CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE.
Child Support and Visitation: If you feel the custodial parent has denied you your visitation rights and you want to stop paying your child support, you still are under a duty to pay your court ordered child support until the court modifies that ordered amount. PLEASE CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY. WE CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE.
All child support payments should be made to the Family Support Payment Center, a centralized child support processing center in Jefferson City Missouri. That address is: Family Support Payment Center, P.O. Box 109002, Jefferson City, Missouri 65110-9002 or phone 800-225-0530. Don’t forget to put the MACSS or IV-D number on your payment (personal/business check, cashier’s check, money order.) You can also make your payment online and check payments on your case at https://dss.mo.gov/child-support/noncustodial-parent.
WEB LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION