Minnesota Child Support Information

Child Support Minnesota Guidelines

The law of child support in Minnesota underwent some significant changes commencing with the January 1, 2007 effective date of Minnesota Statutes 518A et al. The new formula for determining support now takes into account the incomes of both parents in determining the amount of each parent's contribution to the cost of raising their child and addresses the issues of basic child support, the allocation of the costs between the parents of child care costs, and the expenses related to medical support of the child, such as medical/dental insurance premiums, prescriptions, co-pays and deductibles.

Modification of Existing Orders.

If one the parents can show that there has occurred since the last child support order was set a change in circumstances making that support order unreasonable or unfair, that parent can request that the Court or a reviewing child support magistrate modify support.

As of January 1, 2008, a party may apply for a modification of support under the new child support law for a number of reasons, including:

  • the gross income of one or both of the parties has increased or decreased; 
  • the financial needs of one or both of the parties or the child has significantly increased;
  • extraordinary medical expenses for the child exist that are not covered by other provisions of the parties' court order; 
  • a child has been emancipated. 
  • both parents consent to a modification and application of the new law. 
  • there has been a substantial change in work or education related child care expenses; 
  • one party has been forced onto public assistance; 
  • there has been a significant increase or decrease in the Cost of Living as determined by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics; 

Under the new child support law, it is presumed that a substantial change in a parents circumstances has occurred, which may entitle him or her to a modification of support if:

  • the change in the law would result in a change in child support of $75 or more per month.
  • either parent has a decrease in gross income of 20% or more due to circumstances beyond their control. 

It is worth noting that should you appear to be entitled to modification of the terms of your support order, whether it be an increase or a decrease, time is of the essence in the sense that any support modification you receive can be retroactive to the date you file for your modification. In that sense, time really is money, and the sooner you act the more of it you can save.

Using Both Parents' Incomes to Determine Basic Support

A common criticism amongst child support obligors under the old statute was that the level of child support ordered was determined with reference only to the obligor's income without regard to the earnings of the recipient, who in fact may have been earning as much or substantially more than the obligor. With the new statute, the rules of have changed: Instead of determining support based on only the obligor's net income, the new guidelines use both parents' monthly gross incomes to determine basic support.

The new guidelines formula for calculating child support applies the parents' combined "parental income for determining child support" (known as "PICS"). This combined gross income figure is applied to a basic support guidelines table to determine the parents' combined basic support obligation and each parent is deemed to be able to contribute a percentage of that amount.

Custodial versus Noncustodial Parents.

Another key feature to the new child support law addresses complaints of child support obligors of not getting consideration for the time they spend with the child in determining the amount of support they owe. While under the previously law a parent that did not hold the label of having "primary physical custody" was required to pay child support based on net income and child support guidelines, the new statute lolds the physical custody designation irrelevant. Child support is based upon the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

If a court order specifies the total parenting time granted each parent, the obligor may receive a deduction from basic support depending on the amount of court-ordered parenting time granted to the obligor. The obligor receives the deduction if parenting time is 10 percent or more. The amount of the deduction is based on the percentage of court-ordered parenting time. A parent having the child for 45.1 to 50 percent of time is now treated like a joint custodian for support purposes and presumed to share equal time, which under the new guidelines could yield a drastically reduced support obligation or in fact no support amount at all.

Health Care Coverage

The allocation between the parents of the cost of health care coverage and medical support generally is also new. After the court or magistrate decides whether there is appropriate health care coverage and who should carry the insurance, the costs of premiums are prorated between the parties based on each parent's proportionate share of their combined gross income (PICS). A parent earning 55 percent of the combined gross income pays 55 percent of the insurance premium and 55 percent of the un-reimbursed medical or dental costs for the child, and so forth.

Child Care Support

The costs of work-related child care or education-related child care are shared by the parents on an ability-to pay-basis, similar to the mechanism for sharing medical support. Since only one parent can make use of the 25 percent Federal Child Care tax credit for income tax purposes, the statute provides that the parties share the remaining 75 percent of the actual costs of child care, for example, if the costs of child care were $100 per month, the parties would allocate between them $75 per month based on their relative gross earnings.

Conclusion.

The forgoing is but a basic description of how child support issues are decided under the new law in Minnesota, to be used as a guide in aiding a parent's consideration of whether review of child support is warranted. Additional features under the new guidelines may also come into play in determining the appropriate level of support, such as the existence of "non-joint" children, support obligations ordered against a parent in other cases, and a variety of other circumstances and a parent would be well advised in seeking the advice of an attorney in determining how the new child support statute applies to the facts and circumstances of his or her individual case.