Minnesota Child Support

Child Support in Minnesota

Attorney GLEN A. NORTON ...

Child Support in Minnesota ...Child support in Minnesota is the right of the child, and not necessarily subject to compromise by the parents without consideration for the child. Until 2007 it was based upon the net income of the non-custodial parent but now it is based upon the sum of both parents' gross income. If you have an existing child support order you can sign up to have the State and County assist you in collecting the monthly payments. You can call them at (800) 657-3512 or you can look up the payments and history by on the Minnesota Child Support Online website located at : http://www.childsupport.dhs.state.mn.us/Action/Welcome

If your case was filed before 1/1/07 it is based upon the old child support law. If it was filed after 1/1/07 it will be decided based upon the new child support law.

Child support is reduced to judgment for collection purposes. The County through their Child Support Officers and the Assistant County Attorneys collect child support and spousal maintenance (alimony) by action in court for contempt, suspension of driving licenses, professional licenses and sports licenses such as your fishing or hunting licenses. In 2007 our legislature also changed the child support laws to allow for child support that is due for more than ten years to be collected. Therefore, it is wise to keep proof of payment, especially if you have paid the other parent directly, because in ten years even the banks may not have a copy available for you to use to prove you paid the child support you paid. This is also a good reason to pay through the state's child support collection system so that there is independent documentation that you pay as expected (even if you don't actually pay as expected it can help limit your risk by showing credit for payments you did make.)

The New Child Support Law. After2007 child support is calculated on an income shares basis instead of the net income of the obligor. The state has provided a web based calculator that you can try. The calculator web page is found at: http://childsupportcalculator.dhs.state.mn.us and it is free of charge. Under the new law, a 12% parenting expense adjustment is also given for a non-custodial parent who has between 10% and 45% of the parenting time as measured in over night stays. Credit is also given for non-joint children supported by a parent. Income shares calculation basically means that the total combined income of both parents will be calculated based on gross monthly income. Then support tables will be consulted to see what the FDA says an average family would spend raising children in Minnesota in that income bracket. The resulting average expenditure amount is then apportioned between the parents based upon their pro-rata share of the total incomes. This new formula may result in changed amounts of child support compared to current law. The change in law does not entitle someone to go back to court by itself. A substantial change in circumstance that makes the existing order unreasonable or unfair will still be required. The change must result in at least a $75.00 per month increase or decrease in the support obligation. The statutory moratoriums will still apply. The moratoriums, found at Minnesota Statute § 518.18 are one (1) year after a decree and two (2) years after a motion for change in support is decided on its merits. Endangerments of the child, or interference with visitations, are exceptions to the moratorium. There is also a new provision permitting a party to request a six (6) month review of an order establishing custody, parenting time or support, issued under the new law. At the review, the court will review if child support is paid current and if both parties are complying with the parenting time provisions.

Expedited Process Cases. Minnesota has instituted a procedure where child support issues can be handled in an efficient and more informal forum. These are known as IVD cases. This procedure is controlled by a Child Support Magistrate as opposed to a Judge or a Family Court Referee. A Child Support Magistrate is authorized to set child support and various related payments and affirm agreements between the parties with an order. Special rules have been formulated for the efficient administration of this process. It is designed to be used with or without attorneys. Issues of custody cannot be decided by a child support magistrate.

Recalculation of Child Support. There are two types of re-calculation of child support. They are cost of living increases and change of circumstances re-calculations. Every two years there is an automatic cost of living increase or (COLA) on most child support decrees. Notice of this cost of living increase is mailed to the person obligated to pay child support. Often a person may wish to contest a COLA child support increase. For example, that person may not have received an increase in pay in the past two years. The objecting party must reply to the court as instructed in the notice. Failure to respond results in an increase in the child support obligation automatically being applied. Additionally, if a party believes the circumstances have changed so that the original Judgment and Decree is no longer fair, the party can move either before a Child Support Magistrate or in the District Court to amend the Judgment and Decree with a higher or lower child support obligation.

Unemployment or Promotions and Child Support. When circumstances change dramatically, such as a cut in pay or a raise, if it results in either 20% or $50.00 change in the support amount due, a motion to amend the order or decree to recalculate support is necessary. This motion is particularly important if a person has become unemployed and owes child support. The person should immediately go to the Court with a motion for reduction of child support because the court process takes time. Likewise, if an obligor has substantial increase in earnings, the party receiving child support may make a motion for an increase in child support. Even if the parents agree to another amount, the Court will not enforce the agreement until the order in existence is changed.

The Old Child Support Law Before 2007 assuming the non-custodial parent’s income is between $1,001.00 and $6,975.00 per month, child support is twenty-five percent (25%) for one child, thirty percent (30%) for two children, thirty-five percent (35%) for three children, thirty-nine percent (39%) for four children, forty-three percent (43%) for five children, forty-seven percent (47%) for six children and fifty percent (50%) for seven or more children. Net income is defined as the total gross income from any source, minus federal income tax, minus state income tax, minus social security, minus a “reasonable” pension deduction, minus union dues, minus the cost of dependent health insurance coverage, minus the cost of individual or group health, hospitalization coverage (or an amount for actual medical expenses) and minus a child support or maintenance order which is currently being paid. Below $1,000.00 net income per month the percentages taper back to a lower child support amount and at $550.00 per month it is based upon the Court’s determination of a person’s ability to pay. Community service can always be ordered. Income over $6,975.00 per month is not a consideration for child support. Net income does not include the income of the obligor’s spouse, but does include in-kind payments received by the obligor in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business, if payments reduce the obligor’s living expenses. Net income may not include compensation received by a party for employment in excess of a 40-hour work week provided that (i) support is nonetheless ordered in an amount at least equal to the guidelines amount based on the income not excluded under this clause; and (ii) the party demonstrates, and the court finds that: (a) the excess employment began after the filing of the Petition for Dissolution; (b) the excess employment reflects an increase in the work schedule or hours worked over that of the two years immediately preceding the filing of a petition; (c) the excess employment is voluntary and not a condition of employment; (d) the excess employment is in the nature of additional, part-time, or overtime employment compensable by the hour or a faction of the hour; and (e) the parties compensation structure has not been changed for the purpose of effecting a support or maintenance obligation.