Child Support in Minnesota
Do you have children and you are no longer in a relationship with the other parent, and you want to know your rights with regard to child support? Are you entitled to receive child support from the other parent, or might you actually have to pay a child support obligation? The attorneys at Blahnik, Prchal & Stoll can answer these questions for you.
Child support obligations in Minnesota are based on the gross incomes of each parent, regardless of the custodial labels. To determine a parent's child support obligation, generally, you will need the following information:
Number of "joint children" (i.e. children of both parents)
Number of "non-joint children" (i.e. children of just one parent involved in the particular proceeding)
Each parent's "gross income"
The number of days of parenting time that each parent has with the children each year (the total must equal 365 days)
The cost of childcare/daycare that is expended for the joint children (if any); and
The cost of health insurance and dental insurance that is expended for the joint children.
Once this information is known, it can be incorporated into Minnesota's child support calculator (which can be found online), to determine any resulting child support obligation.
Generally, the more the parents earn in total (combined) income, the greater the child support obligation. Minnesota law provides a chart of the corresponding child support amount based on the parents' total income. The child support calculator will also determine the parents' "PICS" percentages for purposes of allocating various expenses. Each parent's PICS reflects that parent's percentage of the parents' total income.
There is "presumption" in the law that each parent is capable of working a 40 hour week (with certain exceptions), and that if the parent does not work 40 hours per week, "potential income" can be imputed to that parent for purposes of determining an appropriate child support obligation.
Modifying Child Support
The Court in Minnesota always retains jurisdiction to modify a child support order after it has been established. Minnesota law provides that the terms of an order regarding child support may be modified upon a showing of one or more of the following, any of which makes the terms of the child support order "unreasonable and unfair":
substantially increased or decreased gross income of either parent;
substantially increased or decreased need of either parent or the child or children;
receipt of assistance under the AFDC program;
a change in the cost of living for either party as measured by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics;
extraordinary medical expenses of the child not provided for under section 518A.41;
a change in the availability of appropriate health care coverage or a substantial increase or decrease in health care coverage costs;
the addition of work-related or education-related child care expenses of the obligee or a substantial increase or decrease in existing work-related or education-related child care expenses; or
upon the emancipation of the child.
It is presumed that there has been a "substantial change in circumstances" and the terms of a current child support order shall be rebuttably presumed to be “unreasonable and unfair” if, the application of the child support guidelines, to the current circumstances of the parties results in a calculated court order that is at least 20 percent and at least $75 per month higher or lower than the current support order.
Receiving or Paying Child Support through Wage Withholding
Income wage withholding is the process by which child support, spousal maintenance, child care, or medical support (or all of these) are deducted from a support "obligor's" income. The support amounts must be court ordered before wage withholding can be implemented. If the support "obligee" wishes to have his or her child support (or other support) withheld from the obligor's income, the obligee is entitled to wage withholding and must simply apply for the wage withholding in the county where the child support order was obtained and filed.
In practice, instead of wage withholding some people opt to pay child support obligations through automatic bill pay or through automatic bank transfers that result in the child support obligation getting paid on the same day of the month every month. It is generally discouraged to pay child support through a personal check, because it oftentimes leads to the support not getting paid in a timely manner and oftentimes it can be used a level of control by the person owing the child support.
Contact an Attorney if You Need Help with obtaining child support or defending against a parent seeking child support
The legal team at Blahnik, Prchal & Stoll is well versed in all aspects of child support matters, including establishing initial child support obligations and modifying existing child support obligations. Our firm represents clients in child support proceedings in the Child Support Expedited Process and in District Court. Contact our firm for a free initial consultation to answer any questions you may have with regard to child support.