Expectation of Parental Income

little boy stacking coinsA divorce or custody action always means major changes for both the people in the relationship as well as the children involved.  These changes involve logistic issues, emotional issues, and financial issues.  At the end of the case, the judge will make an order for child support. The law provides that children have the right to financial support from both parents, even after the parents no longer are involved in a romantic relationship.  Setting child support involves using a specific calculation set out in the Minnesota state child support guidelines.  This calculation reviews many different issues when making the calculation, but the calculation always includes the income of both parents.

There is an expectation that both parents will generate income.  With limited exceptions, the law makes a presumption that both parents have the ability to make income and to financially support their children.  If a parent does not generate income, then the court can determine that the child is willfully and voluntarily underemployed.  In other words, the court can decide that even though a parent is making no income or even a very small amount of income, the parent is capable of making a lot more.  In such a circumstance, the court will impute an income to the parent who is willfully and voluntarily underemployed.

The law provides that a court can make the presumption that a parent has the ability to be gainfully employed at least forty hours per week.  A parent is able to rebut this presumption by presenting evidence why he or she cannot work forty hours a week, which could include such reasons as physical disability.

If a court decides to impute an income to an underemployed parent, there are several ways that the judge may decide to approach the issue.  One way is that the court will evaluate the parent’s potential level of income, based on the parent’s training and job history.  The court could also decide to calculate the parent’s income by setting it at 150 percent of the federal or Minnesota minimum wage, whichever is more.  However the court decides to approach it, there is an expectation that every parent will generate income to support the children.

Let us help you understand the law surrounding child support in Minnesota. Call us at (651) 371-9117 for a consultation.