If you do not agree with the Family Support Division's action on your child support case, you can appeal their decision and request a hearing. The hearing will give you the opportunity to present evidence, such as witness testimony and documents, to show why the decision made for your case was wrong.

Note: The following information is provided to help you understand the hearing process. It is not intended to provide legal advice about an appeal. If you need legal advice about how to proceed with your appeal, please contact an attorney.

Attendance at the Hearing

If you do not attend your hearing, the Hearings Unit may decide to dismiss your case or make a ruling based on the Family Support Division's finding. If you are not the one that requested the hearing, it is still important for you to attend. If you do not attend the hearing and the person that requested the hearing does, the hearing may proceed without you. If you are not able to attend the hearing, you will receive a copy of the Hearings Unit's decision by mail. This decision may result in a higher or lower amount of child support, and it could also include a finding on past due child support owed.

Preparation for the Hearing

You should begin preparing for the hearing immediately after you file your appeal. This may include arranging for necessary witnesses and gathering documents or other materials that you believe support your case. The Hearings Unit will not postpone a hearing because you are not prepared, except in extraordinary circumstances.

The Family Support Division will mail you a copy of the Agency Hearing Packet. This packet includes all of the documents the Family Support Division will use at the hearing. It is important to make sure the Family Support Division has your current address so you can receive this packet.

You should be prepared to present firsthand evidence to prove the facts, which are believed to be true. Only people who have personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the issue should testify. No one should rely on what previously has been presented to the Family Support Division or any other state or federal agency to prove the case before the Hearings Unit.

A witness should be someone who saw or heard something that is important in proving a fact. It is not necessary to have many witnesses repeat the same testimony. It is your responsibility to make sure all witnesses are available and will attend the hearing on time.

Documents

If there are any documents you would like to be considered for your hearing, you have the option to send them to the Child Support Hearings Unit. It is your responsibility to make sure that all parties involved in the hearing receive copies of the documents before the scheduled hearing.

It is important to note that the documents you send will not be returned to you, so please do not send original documents. Documents can be sent to the Child Support Hearings Unit by mail or fax. If you are sending more than 20 pages of documents, we ask that you please send them by mail. Documents can be sent to:

Child Support Hearings Unit
PO Box 1527
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Fax: 573-522-1366

Representation

You have a right to have an attorney (lawyer) who is licensed to practice law in Missouri represent you at the hearing. If you do not have a lawyer you can contact the Missouri Bar. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you can contact the legal aid office that serves your area to see if you qualify for a free lawyer.

If you expect to be represented by an attorney at the hearing, you must make arrangements with that attorney to enter an appearance with the Hearings Unit.

Agreements

If your family is not receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, you may be given the opportunity to have a conference before the hearing to discuss your child support amount. If everyone agrees on a child support amount that is different than what was proposed by the Family Support Division, then a contested hearing may not be necessary.

A short hearing will be held about the terms of the parties' agreement. Both parties need to be present in order to come to an agreement.  The Hearing Officer can provide more information at the time of the hearing if this is an option in your case.

Subpoenas

A subpoena is an order issued by the Hearings Unit to require someone to provide documents or to appear to testify at your hearing. If you would like to ask for a subpoena, you should contact the Hearings Unit at 573-526-3518 after you receive your hearing notice. The Hearings Unit will review and rule on your request. If your request is granted, it is your responsibility to serve the subpoena.

Postponements

Every effort should be made to participate in the hearing when it is scheduled. If you need a postponement, you must submit a written request explaining reason for continuance and provide the dates you would be available for a hearing if it is rescheduled. This written request must be sent to all parties involved and to the Hearings Unit at:

Child Support Hearings Unit
PO Box 1527
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Fax: 573-522-1366

Your hearing will take place on the date provided in your notice unless the Hearings Unit approves your request to postpone the hearing. If you request postponement, please do not assume your request has been approved. Unless you receive a notice that your hearing has been postponed, your hearing will take place on the original date.

Telephone Conference Hearings

Hearings are held by telephone conference between you and/or your attorney, the Hearing Officer, the Family Support Division witness, and any other parties involved. The Hearing Officer will contact everyone who needs to be involved in the hearing by phone at the hearing's scheduled time. If someone is not available to answer the call, they will be given a time-frame they can return the call and participate in the hearing. If they do not return the call on time, they will not be able to attend the hearing.

Hearings typically last between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on the issues involved. Those participating in the hearing must be available during the entire hearing. Testimony cannot be taken from a witness who is not available when the Hearing Officer calls.

In-Person Hearings

If you would like to attend your hearing with the Hearing Officer present, you may request to attend your hearing at our office in Jefferson City rather than by phone. To request an in-person hearing, please contact the Child Support Hearings Unit at 573-526-3518 after you receive your hearing notice.

If you choose to attend the hearing in person, please note that others involved in the hearing do not have to appear in person and may participate by phone.

Contact Information

For more information or if you have additional questions, please contact us at:

Child Support Hearings Unit
PO Box 1527
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Phone: 573-526-3518
Fax: 573-522-1366
Email: DLS.HRGSEXH@dss.mo.gov