Debt and Child Support

Children are a great joy, but also greatly expensive.  Keeping a child adequately fed, clothed, and shelter can absorb significant resources.  When a child gets older, school fees and extracurricular activities can also add to the pile of expenses.  Moreover, health care expenses can be overwhelming, especially if a child has special needs.  In recognition of these financial issues, if parents separate or divorce, the court will enter an order for child support.

In Minnesota, child support is based on a particular formula.  The formula includes several factors, including the income of both parents and the parenting time enjoyed by each parent.  Notably absent from the factors in the child support calculation is the debt held by each party.  Some parents find this unfair, especially if the paying parent has agreed to take on a significant portion of the debt the parties acquired while they were married or even living together.  However, child support is a debt that is owed to the child, in that it is supposed to ensure the child has sufficient food, shelter, and necessities.  The child needs these regardless of the amount of debt incurred by either parent.  Accordingly, policy dictates that the debt incurred by the parents should not be calculated into the support.

There are some limited circumstances, however, when it may be appropriate for debt to be considered when calculating child support.  After calculating child support, one of the parents may request that the court deviate from the amount provided by using the statutory support guidelines.  Some limited circumstances allow a court to include debt as one of the reasons for a deviation.  However, keep in mind that any type of debt will not be proper as a foundation for a deviation.  For example, credit card debt or a large mortgage would not be appropriate reasons.  Instead, the debt must meet several requirements to be considered.  First, the debt must be owed to private creditors.  Moreover, the debt must have been incurred for either the necessary support of the child or for the necessary generation of income by the parent.  If a parent wants to request debt as a reason for deviation, he or she will need to provide a sworn schedule as well as supporting documentation for the debt.

We have extensive experience helping our clients understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to child support.  Call us today at 651-413-9568 to talk about your case.