Any parent can tell you that raising a child is expensive. Daycare costs, medical expenses, food, clothing, toys, extracurricular activities, are just a few examples of the expenses parents will need to consider. Under Minnesota law, a child has the right to be financially supported by both parents. When the parents are married or cohabitating, the parents are generally both contributing to the financial support of the children. However, after a divorce or custody action, the parents will live in separate houses. Child support is designed to make sure the child remains supported even though the parents live apart. In the optimal situation, parents will be able to come to an agreement about how parenting time should be divided. Child support, however, is based on a very specific formula, which includes factors such as each parent’s income and how much parenting time each parent will have with the child. It is not uncommon for parents trying to reach a settlement to wonder if they are allowed to waive child support.
Whether a court will allow parties to enter an agreement that does not provide for child support will be a very fact sensitive issue. In cases where the child support obligation would be minimal, the parents make approximately the same income, or where the child is totally financially supported without child support, the court may allow the parties to enter an order that reserves the issue of child support. This means that in the future, the parents may return to court and ask for child support to be set. The reason for this law is to make sure that if circumstances change and the custodial parent can no longer adequately care for the child without support, there is a legal avenue to request child support.
Parties should be aware, however, that courts are often reluctant to enter this sort of order. The court will be especially cautious where it appears that the custodial parent is at a significant financial disadvantage. It is against public policy to allow a parent to “buy” custody from the other parent by agreeing to waive child support. Accordingly, just because the custodial parent has offered to waive child support does not mean the court is obligated to enter an order to that effect.
If you have questions about child support, call us today at (320) 299-4249. We can talk with you about your child and your financial obligation.