Whether you're the parent requesting or paying for child support, support battles can be frustrating to navigate. At Johnson/Turner Legal, we're committed to helping parents protect their rights while pursuing their child's best interests.
When you work with our firm, you gain access to a team consisting of an experienced child support lawyer in Minnesota, two paralegals, a client engagement specialist, and a life coach. We'll help you move forward with a case strategy custom-tailored to your needs while giving you the tools to maintain a strong relationship with your children.
Johnson / Turner Legal has offices across Minnesota – Forest Lake, Blaine, Lake Elmo, Wayzata, and Woodbury – to better serve you no matter where you are. Contact our office nearest you to get started.
There are three basic elements to every child support plan in Minnesota:
In Minnesota, child support is calculated using an "income shares" model. Essentially, the court feeds various factors like the gross income of both parents, the number of children, and the cost of providing those children with a good quality of life, into a calculator. The calculator then determines an equitable child support arrangement for the parents.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides an online Minnesota child support calculator so you can get an idea of what your child support obligations may be.
The Minnesota child support guidelines are outlined in Minnesota Statutes Sec. 518A.35.
During a child support battle, the court tries to ensure that a child retains the same quality of life post-divorce that they maintained while the parents were married. Courts then try to arrive at an equitable arrangement given the circumstances of the parents.
For example, if one parent was the primary breadwinner in the marriage and the other parent lacks access to a job, the court may stipulate that the higher-earning parent should pay substantial child support until the other parent finds employment.
In the vast majority of cases, child support in MN is paid to the parent who has more parenting time. In other words, the parent with whom the child resides the majority of the time is usually the one receiving support.
In Minnesota, child support is meant to be used for:
Child support is NOT to be used for:
In Minnesota, child support cannot generally be used to pay for private school; however, the Minnesota child support guidelines do provide for deviations.
Minnesota statute 518A.43 discusses the "extraordinary educational needs" of the child. In other words, if a child has extraordinary educational needs that cannot be met in public schools – for example, because the child has special needs – then the court may modify the child support amount to reflect the cost of private school tuition.
Parents are also free to enter into a legal agreement that provides that the parents will pay for or otherwise divide private school tuition for the child or children. It is important to understand that this type of agreement is not a child support agreement. In other words, a request to modify a child support obligation will not necessarily be successful in modifying the agreement to share in private school tuition.
In order to modify a child support order in the state of Minnesota, the party requesting the change will need to prove that there has been a "material and substantial change of circumstances" since the entry of the last order.
This change must be so substantial as to render the last support order "unfair and unreasonable." There is a presumption that the last support order is unfair and unreasonable if the new order would result in a support order that is both $75 and 20% different than the last support order. This difference can be either higher or lower.
The substantial change of circumstances can be the result of many factors. The most common is that one of the parents has either lost a job or gotten a raise or higher paying job. In the case of losing a job or taking a pay cut, this will not automatically result in a modification of child support. If a parent voluntarily quits a job or takes a job with substantially reduced pay, then the other parent may argue that the support should not be reduced because that parent is willfully underemployed.
Another common reason to modify child support is if one of the parents has had another child. The number of children that a parent is legally obligated to support is one factor in the child support calculation, so if one of the parents has more children after the entry of the initial support order, this could be cause for modification of that order.
One factor that is weighed in determining child support is the amount of parenting time each parent will have under the custody order. In essence, the less time the non-custodial parent has with the child, the higher the child support obligation will be; however, it is increasingly common for parties to agree on sharing parenting time equally. Equal parenting time will also have an impact on child support.
Minnesota 518A.36 clearly states that, if the parents have equal parenting time and also have equal income, then the court will not enter an order for child support. If the judge determines that the child’s expenses are not being shared equally between the parties, however, then the court can still order child support.
The reasoning behind this is that, if the parents had continued to reside together, the parent making more money would contribute a higher percentage of the total financial support provided for the child. For example, if one parent makes 70% of the household income and the other party makes 30%, then child support is designed to make sure that the higher-earning parent continues to provide 70% of the financial support for the child.
This will be true even if the parties have equal parenting time, although the child support will be lower than other child support orders, as the calculation takes parenting time into account.
The Minnesota child support guidelines do not take debt into account. 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.
Child support, however, 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 limited circumstances, however, when it may be appropriate for debt to be considered when calculating child support:
If a parent wants to request debt as a reason for deviation from the child support guidelines, then he or she will need to provide a sworn schedule, as well as supporting documentation for the debt.
At Johnson/Turner Legal, our Minnesota child support lawyers can help you protect your rights if you believe your co-parent is lying about their circumstances or has purposefully avoided finding employment to ensure you pay child support. We can also help you file for an order modification if your circumstances change in a manner that renders your current child support arrangement untenable.
Child support cases often happen in conjunction with child custody battles. For an in-depth overview of how we approach child custody, you can visit our Child Custody page.
We know that for many parents, legal fees are a concern. At Johnson/Turner Legal, our flat-fee pricing guarantees that you pay for our services, not our time. When you bring us on board for your case, you never have to worry about hidden fees or unexpected costs ever again.
Speak with an experienced Minnesota child support attorney. Contact us online or via phone at (651) 371-9117. We have offices all over Minnesota, including Forest Lake, Blaine, Duluth, Lake Elmo, Wayzata, and Woodbury.
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