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How do I calculate child support in Minnesota?

Close-up of economist using calculator while going through bills and taxes in the office.

MINNESOTA CHILD SUPPORT

Child support is an ever-changing area of the law. While the child support process is designed to be user-friendly for the general public, it can quickly become complicated for those unfamiliar with Minnesota’s Child Support Guidelines.

Minnesota Child Support Guidelines focus on three types of child support:

  1. Basic child support;
  2. Medical child support; and
  3. Child-care support (daycare costs).

Child support is based on a formula that has been enacted by the Minnesota Legislature. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) provides a free online Minnesota Child Support Guideline Calculator that can be useful in calculating guideline child support obligations.

UPDATED GUIDELINES

Back in August of 2018, the Minnesota Legislature overhauled the way Minnesota Courts calculate child support such that the following factors are primarily determinative in the overall child support calculation:

  •  The gross income of both parents 
  •  The number of children the parents have together 
  •  The cost of medical/dental insurance 
  •  The cost of childcare/daycare (if applicable) 
  •  The cost of unreimbursed medical bills (often called a co-pay) 
  • The amount of court-ordered parenting time each parent has with the children

The first step is determining the gross monthly income of each parent.

WHAT IS GROSS MONTHLY INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT?

WHAT IS GENERALLY INCOME?

  •  Salary and wages (paychecks) 
  •  Commissions 
  •  Spousal maintenance (alimony) 
  •  Potential income (if not working or underemployed) 
  •  Workers’ compensation payments (both weekly and possibly lump sum) 
  •  Unemployment payments 
  •  Military retirement payments 
  •  Pension and disability payments 
  •  Social Security disability payments 
  •  Social Security benefits paid to a parent base on the parent’s disability 
  •  Income from self-employment or from running a business

WHAT IS GENERALLY NOT INCOME?

  • Overtime (with some exceptions) 
  • Child support received for other non-joint children
  • Spouse or significant other’s income (even if living together) 
  • Public Assistance 
  • Child Support that is paid for other non-joint children 
  • Spousal Maintenance that is paid

INSURANCE, DAYCARE, AND PARENTING TIME

MEDICAL, DENTAL INSURANCE, AND DAYCARE

The next step is to determine the cost of medical and dental insurance for the children only. If both parents have insurance available, it can become a contested issue on who should provide the insurance for the children. Generally, both parents are expected to contribute toward the cost of medical and dental insurance and related costs for the children.

Next, the costs for work-related daycare that each parent spends for the children needs to be determined.

PARENTING TIME

Finally, the court will look at the parenting time each parent has with the children, which will account for what is called a parenting time expense adjustment. The court must consider the number of court-ordered overnights that each parent has with the children. It is important to note that, generally, only court-ordered overnights count when it comes to the parenting time expense adjustment.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Each of these variables is inputted into the calculator to determine the guideline support obligation. Barring unusual and unique circumstances, the court will likely order this amount for child support. If there are unusual or unique circumstances, you should consider speaking to an attorney to request a deviation from guideline support. It should be noted that in some districts of the state the court rarely deviates from the child support guidelines.

In Minnesota, generally child support goes until the child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later.  In some rare circumstances, the court can order that child support continue until age 20 if the child is still in school, or if in the case of extreme circumstances, like a child has health conditions, it can continue past age 20.

Contrary to common belief, child support does not include extra-curricular costs, costs for school, cell phones, vehicles, or the cost of college. This means that unless there is some other clause in a divorce agreement or other such agreement, there is no requirement for a parent to contribute toward these “extra” costs.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT YOUR CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION?

If you are unable to afford your child support obligation you should speak to an attorney immediately. The penalty for not paying child support can be fairly severe, and starts with losing your driver’s license, being held in contempt, losing your passport, and finally you can be jailed.

Contact us for a free consultation on your child support issues.