Determining Child Support Amounts in Minnesota
Figuring out how much child support you will pay or receive in Minnesota can be confusing. The state uses a detailed formula to calculate child support based on income, number of children, and parenting time.
While online calculators can provide estimates, getting an accurate number requires understanding Minnesota’s child support guidelines.
This article explains how child support is determined in MN, what impacts the amount, and tips to estimate your child support obligation.
How is Child Support Calculated in Minnesota?
When parents split up, child support is typically paid by the parent who doesn’t have primary custody to help cover expenses for the children. But how is the amount decided? In Minnesota, they aim to make it fair based on both parents’ incomes and time spent with the children.
Here’s a general overview of what that process looks like:
- First, the court will look at the gross monthly incomes of both parents. This includes money from jobs, unemployment benefits, disability payments, self-employment, and other sources. Certain things are deducted, like taxes, retirement savings, and spousal maintenance.
- Next, they add the parents’ monthly incomes together. This total income number, along with the number of kids, goes into a calculation table to get a baseline support amount. This is the basic amount they estimate the children need.
- Then, the baseline number is split between the parents based on what percentage of the total income each of them has. For example, if one parent makes $4,000/month and the other makes $2,000/month, the former has 67% of the income and the other has 33%. So, the first parent would pay 67% of the child support, and the other would pay 33%.
Courts can adjust the amount, if needed, based on things like how much time each parent spends with the kids. The judge has to explain the reasons for any changes. If a parent has a very low income, below the poverty line, they may pay a minimum monthly amount per child instead. This prevents child support from being a huge burden.
In the end, the judge orders a specific monthly child support amount to be paid. This money goes to help cover the kids’ expenses like food, clothing, school costs, medical bills, and more. Though divorce can be messy, child support aims to make sure the children’s needs are fairly provided for.
How to Estimate Child Support Payments in Minnesota
The easiest way to estimate child support is by using the Minnesota Child Support Calculator. This online tool allows you to enter information like income, parenting time percentage, and number of children. It then runs the calculation and provides an estimated support amount.
The child support calculator bases the guidelines amount on the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Statute. However, it’s important to note the calculator only provides an estimate. The court will make the final determination on support amounts in any child support order.
When using the child support calculator, you’ll need to have the following information available:
- Your gross monthly income
- Other parent’s gross monthly income
- Number of joint children
- Your number of overnights with the children
- Child care and medical support costs
Entering this information into the calculator will provide an estimated basic support amount and potential adjustments for child care, medical, and parenting time. The final child support obligation amount combines the basic support with any applicable adjustments.
How is a Child Support Order Determined in Minnesota?
While the online calculator provides an estimate, the court ultimately has the authority to determine the amount of child support that will be ordered. The judge may order an amount that follows the guidelines calculations closely, or they may deviate from the guidelines if there are special circumstances.
There are a few ways a child support order can be established in Minnesota:
- During divorce or separation proceedings
- By requesting a child support order through the county child support office
- Through a stipulated agreement between parents
When determining the support order amount, the court will consider the guidelines calculation, as well as factors like the financial resources of each parent and the standard of living the child, would have without separation. The final child support order will outline the required monthly payment owed by the non-custodial parent.
How is Child Support Enforced in Minnesota?
Once a child support order is established, payments must be made as outlined in the order. Child support obligations are enforced by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Some key enforcement methods include:
- Automatic income withholding – Child support is taken directly from the paying parent’s paycheck
- Tax refund interception – Past due support can be taken from state and federal tax refunds
- License suspension – Professional driver and recreational licenses can be suspended for non-payment
- Credit bureau reporting – Missed or late payments will show on credit reports
If the full monthly payment is not made, the difference is considered past due support or arrears. Interest charges, as well as late payment fees, can be added to past-due balances.
Work With an Attorney to Accurately Determine Your Child Support Obligation
Estimating your potential child support is tricky – many factors impact the final amount you’ll pay or receive. While online calculators provide a rough estimate, consult an experienced family law attorney to determine the amount accurately.
At Martine Law, our Minneapolis child support lawyers can advise and represent you in all aspects of child support establishment, modification, and enforcement. Our in-depth experience with Minnesota’s child support guidelines will help you get a fair outcome.
If you have questions about child support or want to discuss your child support situation in MN and how we can help, contact us now for a case review.