Minnesota Child Support 101
Do you ever feel like you missed out on some of the basics when the issue of child support first came up in your life? Let’s take a look at the general principles you need to know about child support work in Minnesota and how they can affect you.
First, a quick vocab lesson. In the child support world, the person paying the support is called the “obligor.” In contrast, the “obligee” is the person to whom the support payments are owed. A “joint child” is a child of both the parents involved in the support proceeding, while a “nonjoint child” is a child of only one of the parents involved in the proceeding. This is important to keep in mind because the child support magistrate will use this language.
What IS child support, anyway?
Child support can include several different things. It includes basic cash support, such as money for food, housing, and education. It also usually includes money for medical and dental care and child care. A child support order can be made in a variety of situations: it might come as part of a divorce, a legal separation, or a court proceeding to determine parentage of a child. A court can also issue a child support modification order further down the line if there is a substantial change in circumstances.
MN Child support guidelines
The amount of child support awarded will not be just a figure made up out of thin air. Minnesota has created guidelines that are written into statute and are to be presumptively followed in all child support cases. Under the child-support guidelines, the court will determine the parents’ combined gross income, subtract certain credits, and then use the resulting combined income to compute a basic child support obligation.
How much is a basic support obligation likely to be? Unlike Mel Gibson, you won’t be paying hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, for a combined parental income of $2,200 to $2,299 per month, the obligation for one child would be $538. For a monthly combined parental income of $4,000 to $4,099, it’s $732.
That doesn’t mean that these figures are necessarily what the court will award. Although the guidelines are presumed to be the right amount, the court can make findings that would result in a deviation from the guidelines. This might happen if, for example, the obligee is a student in further education and isn’t currently earning enough money to cover the children’s expenses.
What if child support isn’t paid?
It’s important to comply with any court-ordered support order. Failure to pay ordered child support can result in a finding of civil contempt. Further, failing to pay for a continued period of time is also a criminal offense and can be either a gross misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the length and amount of the violation.
Who Decides Child Support?
Usually the “child support magistrate” decides. A magistrate is used in Minnesota only to determine child support. They do not have the jurisdiction to deal with any other issue but child support, back child support and the insurance and daycare component.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email me at Jason Kohlmeyer
Rosengren Kohlmeyer, Law Office.