All parents and custodians are mandated to provide for and meet the needs of their children. The legislature established a formula to calculate the amount each parent must provide the other for the support of minor children, called the Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines take into consideration the number of children, gross income of each party, the cost of childcare and medical insurance coverage, the amount either party pays or receives in spousal maintenance, and the amount of time the children are in either party’s home. The Guidelines establish the presumptive child support award. However, the Court can deviate from the Guidelines depending on the needs of the children. The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides an online calculator to determine support.
The following are important points on child support in Minnesota:
- The parties’ gross income (pre-tax and before other deductions) is used to determine the amount of money available for child support.
- The law provides a formula to determine the income of a party who is self-employed.
- The law assumes that both parents can work full-time. If a party does not have any income, the Court can impute (assign or attribute) the amount of income a party should be able to earn. A parent’s absence from the work-force due to child rearing can be taken into consideration, as well as a parent’s past earnings, and unemployment benefits.
- The paying party can be granted discounts on their child support amount depending on the amount of court-ordered parenting time they have. This is referred to as the parenting expense adjustment. Currently, there are three brackets of parenting time, and each bracket has a different deduction. Starting August 1, 2018, the parenting expense brackets will change, and will be determined by a new formula. If you already receive or pay child support, this change in the law may affect the child support you pay or receive. After August 1, 2018, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney to determine if you should be paying less or receiving more child support.
- Child support is not waivable, meaning the parents cannot decided whether they do, or do not want child support. However, the parties, if the Court allows, can reserve child support upon a showing of the ability to meet the needs of the children.
- The County can seek a child support order if the minor child or custodial parent receives public assistance. This will include the initiation of a paternity action if the father has not been adjudicated the father (determined by the court to be the father or has signed recognition of parentage).
- Child support awards can be modified. The standard for modification is whether the current award is unreasonable and unfair. The statutes list certain scenarios in which child support is modifiable. These are not exclusive factors, and other factors can make child support awards modifiable.