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Child Support

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Child Support in Southern Minnesota

Minnesota law supports the idea that both parents are financially responsible for any child that they have together. The father traditionally paid child support to the mother of the children. This was almost always because the mother of the children was presumed to be the best custodian of the children and the father was the breadwinner for the family.

These outdated notions no longer rule the world of family law. Today there are many arrangements under which parents of children, who no longer wish to live together, are able to financially and equally support their children. Still, where one parent primarily lives with the children and acts as their custodial parent, the noncustodial parent will most likely be making payments to support their everyday expenses.

In every case in Minnesota, the court has the last word on whether a specified amount is fair and reasonable. The court’s involvement will be less where the parents are able to work out an arrangement together, but the court will still need to approve the agreement. The court is basically performing a balancing test to find an amount of money that is high enough to support the child, yet low enough to keep the noncustodial parent from bankruptcy.

How Child Support is Determined in MN

Child support is one of the key issues that must be decided in a divorce because children are always entitled to have financial support from both their mother and from their father. Child support in Minnesota is required even if the paying parent has no visitation or doesn’t spend time with the child because it is considered a fundamental right of every child to be supported by both his/her mother and father. To ensure that every child gets the support that he or she needs, the courts will generally use a standard formula in order to determine the appropriate amount of child support that must be paid.

Under Minnesota law, the following information will be taken into account to determine the appropriate amount of child support the noncustodial parent will pay to the custodial parent:

  • Each parent’s gross monthly income. This number will include income from any source; family, lawsuit settlement, work, as well as (in some cases) your earning potential. Your earning potential is usually considered if there is evidence you are purposely or intentionally refusing to work in order to avoid your child support obligations. The total amount of support will need to be paid is determined by assessing the total combined income of both parents to assess how much the parents together should spend on the child. Those with a higher family income are expected to spend more money on their kids.
  • Number of children. The court will take into account how many children live in each of the parents’ homes. If you have multiple children, you will have a higher child support payment than if you have just one child. In addition, if a child has expensive medical needs, is disabled and needs special assistance, or otherwise is likely to incur additional expenses that go above-and-beyond what most children require, then this factor will be taken into account in determining how much must be paid in child support.
  • Child support orders. Where either parent has previously been ordered by a court to make child support payments for another child, the court will consider that amount.
  • Spousal maintenance orders. The court will also consider whether the parent has previously been divorced and ordered, in that proceeding, to pay spousal maintenance, or alimony, to another party.
  • Government benefits. If either parent is receiving Social Security benefits or benefits from the U.S. Department of
  • Veterans Affairs and those benefits are paid to a joint child due to a parent’s disability or retirement, those benefits will be included.
  • Insurance. The court will consider the monthly cost for the child’s medical and dental coverage.
  • Childcare costs. This vague calculation is an attempt by the court to quantify the daily expenses a parent will need to cover the costs of raising their child.
  • Parenting time. Once the child custody order is complete there will be a percentage of time allocated to each parent. That time states how much of the week or month or year each parent will physically spend with their child. When you have physical or shared custody, you are assumed to be spending money on the child’s care during that time. As such, this can reduce the amount of money that you must pay to the other parent for the care of the child.
  • Incarceration. If a parent is incarcerated they are generally unlikely to make payments of any kind and this minimum calculation does not apply.

Based on all of this information, the appropriate amount of child support can be determined. Standard child support formulas are used to ensure that every child gets adequate support from his or her parents. While you can deviate from these standard formulas in some cases if you and your spouse negotiate an agreement to something different, the court may not approve a payment of a smaller amount of child support unless there is a compelling reason to do so. Once the amount of child support payments is determined, you must pay as required or face court action to enforce the child support order.

How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?

When you are ordered to pay child support for your child or children, you generally are required to continue paying the support up until the time when your child reaches the age of 18. This is the time when your child legally becomes an adult.

However, while this is the general rule, there are some exceptions to this rule. The exceptions may be court ordered or you and your spouse may agree on a longer-term arrangement for child support in an out-of-court settlement. Generally, you cannot agree to stop paying child support before a child turns 18 but you can enter into an agreement to pay child support for a longer period of time once a child has become an adult.

There are several situations where it is common for a parent to be obligated to pay child support after a child’s 18th birthday. For example, a parent may be required to pay child support until the child graduates from high school, even if this event does not occur until after the child is 18. A parent can also be ordered to pay ongoing support for a child for longer than the child’s 18th birthday if the child is a special needs child and/or will require ongoing and costly medical care and support after his or her 18th birthday. Sometimes, a couple will also agree that child support payments should continue until after the child has graduated from college if this is determined to be appropriate as part of settlement negotiations.

Once child support has been ordered, the money will typically be taken directly from the paycheck of the paying parent before the paycheck is paid out. Those who are obligated to pay child support must continue to pay for the entire time that their court obligation exists. If you are facing financial problems or a change in circumstance that makes paying child support difficult or impossible as ordered, you cannot just stop paying. Instead, you will need to petition the court to make a change to the existing support agreement. An experienced divorce and family law attorney should be able to assist you in making such a petition or in responding to one if your ex-spouse is seeking to stop support.

Our Mankato Child Custody Attorneys Can Help

If you are paying child support, you need to ensure that you budget for it in your financial planning. This means you need to know how long you can expect to be obligated to pay child support. An experienced divorce and family law attorney can help you to argue for the support arrangement that you feel is appropriate in your situation.

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