How Child Support is Determined in Minnesota

Divorce & Family Law Attorneys Base Child Support on MN Guidelines

Children need financial support from both parents. According to Minnesota law, a child has the right to be financially supported by both parents. Child support is ordered whenever a married couple with children divorces or legally separates or when an unmarried couple has a child and paternity is established. As divorce attorneys, we calculate child support based on the MN Child Support Guidelines.

How MN Child Support is Determined | Martin & Wagner

Child Support Guidelines used to calculate child support essentially works like this:

  • Both parents’ incomes are added together to determine their Parental Income for Child Support (PICS)
  • Each parent is responsible for supporting their child based on his or her PICS, the number of children they have, and the cost of raising those children. This is known as the "income shares" method. The law also considers the cost of medical and dental insurance for the children, as well as the cost of daycare. 

A Parent's Income is a Factor in Determining Child Support

Minnesota law also assumes that both parents can or should work and earn an income. If one parent does not work, is underemployed, or is employed less than full-time, then the Court can consider that parent's "potential income" when calculating child support. If a parent is working, then the Court will calculate child support based on that parent's gross income. Gross income includes all regular and period sources of income (including wages, unemployment compensation, military payments, pensions, disability benefits, payments from a trust or gifts, and self-employment income). The law no longer "nets" out a parent's income, which means any deductions from a parent's income (such as income taxes, retirement contributions, or union dues) are NOT subtracted from a parent's income available for calculating child support. However, self-employed parents can deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses from their income.

What Does Child Support Cover?

Child Support consists of three parts:

  1. Basic Support: payment for the cost of a child's housing, food, clothing, transportation, education, and other expenses.  
  2. Medical / Dental Support: payment to offset the cost of providing health and dental insurance for the child, along with payment of out-of-pocket health and dental expenses.  
  3. Child Care Support: payment for daycare costs when parents go to work or school. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Buying gifts or paying for clothes, extracaricular activities or other items for the child does NOT count as child support. The MN Family Court has to consider all three types of support to determine the total amount of child support to be paid each month. The Court may order child support, "reserve" child support (which means it is not paid now), or may "deviate" when ordering child support (which means order more or less child support than is calculated by the Child Support Guidelines).

How Does Shared Custody Affect Child Support?

People often think that the parent who has physical custody will receive child support but in Minnesota child support is not affected by custody; instead, the amount of court-ordered parenting time (visitation) is considered in calculating child support. Child support may still be paid even if the parents share joint physical custody. If a parent has between 10% to 45% parenting time, then that parent will receive a 12% adjustment (reduction) in the child support owed to the other parent. Keep in mind that this adjustment in the child support owed is based on the parenting time granted by a divorce decree or custody order - not based on the actual amount of parenting time that is exercised.

Modifications of or Changes to Child Support Obligations

If you already have a child support order in place that has already been determined, but your situation has changed since the determination was made, we can assist you in modifying your child support obligations. If your situation includes any of the following, we may be able to help lower or adjust your child support:

  • job loss or change
  • increase or decrease of income
  • increase or decrease of living expenses
  • change in child custody
  • change in parenting time / visitation
  • change in cost of daycare
  • change in availability and/or cost of health/dental insurance
  • emancipation of a child
  • birth of a non-joint child

We also protect your interests in contempt of court proceedings or to enforce child custody orders.

Need An Experienced Custody & Child Support Attorney In Minnesota?

The family & divorce lawyers at Martin & Wagner, P.A. in Rogers, MN are compassionate, experienced and dedicated to representing you and your family's needs. For more information or to schedule a free 1/2 hour consultation with a Minnesota divorce and family law attorney, call Martin & Wagner, P.A. at 763.425.6330 or complete our Contact Form.

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