Regardless of whether parents have been married or not, if mom and dad separate, either party has the right to seek child support from the other. To determine child support eligibility in Minnesota, we look at gross incomes of both parties, the monthly cost of health and dental insurance for the children only, and any child care costs that are incurred while the parents are at work or school.
In most cases, child support is paid until a child reaches the age of 18 and is graduated from high school or until the age of 21 if still in high school. Understanding these components is the key to properly advocating for child support and will serve as an important step in ensuring the present and future financial stability of you and your child.
The Evolving Law on Minnesota Child Support
The laws surrounding child support in Minnesota have gone through several significant changes in the last 15 years. In 2005, additional guidance was put into place that became law on January 1, 2007. In this amendment to the child support statutes, additional factors were enacted when considering an appropriate amount of child support. Some of the major highlights were;
- The development of child support guidelines that accounted for the combined gross income of both parents when calculating a child support amount;
- The creation of a presumption that each parent was entitled to contact with the child at least 25 percent of the time;
- A 12 percent adjustment on a child support obligation if a parent has parenting time child between 10 and 45 percent of the time;
- The allowance of regular reviews of child support based on the cost of living adjustments as well as the right for a review within six months of the order upon the motion of either parent.
- The creation of a child support calculator that would give either parent an idea of what their court-ordered child support may look like if ordered by a judge.
Over the years, the Minnesota legislature has continued to tweak the child support laws in an attempt to correct the flaws in the earlier statutes. Namely, in 2018, the “cliffs” in adjusting child support based on the percentage of parenting time were removed. Instead of having different categories of parenting time when child support is adjusted (less than 10% of the time, 10–45% of the time, 45.1% or more), now every overnight makes a difference in calculating child support.
This means that there is no longer a huge swing in child support between a parent who had only 3 or 4 days more during the year with children. Also, parenting time is now averaged over a two year period to take into account the alternating holidays and summer vacations, which could tilt time in one parent in a given year. There will likely be future changes to the child support laws. Parents must stay on top of the evolving child support law by seeking the proper legal advice so they can best analyze their current child support situation and determine whether or not modifications will need to be made.
Child Support Amid Pending Job Loss
The financial support of children has been thrown into chaos with the corona-virus pandemic. Many people have lost their jobs or taken severe pay cuts. The child support that was in place is no longer possible with incomes that have been reduced or eliminated.
A person may modify child support if:
- There is a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s gross income, including a job loss.
- There is a substantial increase or decrease in the needs of a parent or the child.
- One parent or the child(ren) receives public assistance.
- There is a change in the cost-of-living for either parent.
- There are extraordinary medical expenses for the child.
- There is a change in the availability of health care coverage for the child or a substantial increase or decrease in health care coverage costs.
- There is a substantial change in work-related or education-related child care expenses of the parent who is ordered to pay support.
- The child is emancipated.
A substantial change in circumstances can mean a decrease in income of 20% or more of if when using current gross incomes and costs, the new child support amount is at least 20% AND at least $75 higher or lower than the current ordered amount.
Stay on Top of the Child Support Process by Finding the Right Assistance
Many parents are now facing the need to modify child support payments downward. Given that going to court costs money and many courthouses are not handling cases in person right now, family law attorneys are encouraging parents to be kind to each other and work together to voluntarily reduce child support until the economy improves. Our Minnesota child support attorneys at Perusse Nixon can help you figure out how to modify your child support the easiest way.