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Minnesota Child Support: How Much Do I Have to Pay?

If you are in a position where you will either have to pay child support or will be receiving child support, I will provide an overview of the child support laws in the state of Minnesota. In doing so, I will also provide a quick summary of how we got to our current child support laws, which have only been in effect since August 2018.

The laws in effect from the 1980s until 2007, required the child support obligor (the parent paying child-support), to pay child support based on a percentage of that parent's net income. These guidelines provided for the individual to pay 25% of his or her net income for one child, 30% for two children, 35% for three children, and so on. Again, this was based on net income which was determined after income taxes were deducted, in addition to the cost of health insurance, a reasonable pension amount and union dues.

In 2007, Minnesota moved to an “income shares” model. Under this model, child support was based on both parties' incomes and based on gross income, not net income. The amount of child support to be paid was calculated by totaling both parties' gross incomes to arrive at a "combined parental income for determining child support." This parental income was then allocated between the parents proportionately. This is frequently referred to as each parent's "PICS" income. The changes in the child support laws effective in August 2018 did not change this step in the process of computing an appropriate child support obligation.

The child support laws that were in effect from 2007 to 2018 included two separate "parenting expense adjustments." A child support obligor got a 12% reduction in child support if he or she had parenting time with the children in excess of 10% of the time and a further reduction in child support if he or she had in excess of 45% parenting time. Under this model, it seemed to be a proverbial battleground in Court to get to 45% parenting time.

The child support laws that went into effect in August 2018, did away with the two parenting expense adjustments, and now count every day that each parent has with the children. So, in effect, there are 365 mini parenting expense adjustments. So far, it appears that our new child support guidelines are reducing the amount of litigation as it relates to the parenting expense adjustments, since there is no longer the “cliff” at 45% parenting time.

The current Minnesota child support laws also include provisions to allocate to each parent the cost of medical insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for the children. The cost for the children's medical insurance premium may be built directly into the child support obligor's monthly child support payment. The out-of-pocket costs are divided based on each parent's respective PICS income. Also, daycare costs may be included within the child support computations and included within the child support obligor's monthly child support payment. Typically, the obligor will pay something less than what his or her PICS income otherwise is, to adjust for the benefits of the daycare credit that the child support obligee (the parent receiving child support) may receive. The contribution towards the children's health insurance premium and contribution towards the children's daycare costs are "in addition to" the basic child support obligation.

Child support can be relatively simple to calculate if both parents are W-2 employees and work 40 hour weeks. Child support can be more complex when one or both of the parents are self-employed or if one or both the parents are unemployed or underemployed. The Minnesota child support laws do provide a presumption that each parent is capable of working a 40 hour week for child support purposes. If a parent does not provide sufficient documentation of income or is underemployed, the Courts are allowed impute “potential income” to that parent.

There are many other details of the Minnesota child support laws that I will not discuss here. One useful tool for parents who may be curious as to what their child support obligation may be, is the Minnesota child support calculator that can be found online. However, the amount of child support calculated by the Minnesota child support calculator is only as good as the numbers that are inserted into the calculator. It is important to seek advice from an attorney if you are needing to establish a child support obligation or needing to defend yourself in a child support proceeding.