Minnesota's Family Law Blog

Modification of A Minnesota Child Support Order

So you got divorced and started paying child support to your ex.  But a few years later, you were laid off, making it difficult to pay the same amount as before.  What happens to that child support order now? Can you change it? Do you still have to pay the same amount of child support?

In Minnesota, child support orders can be modified when a “substantial change” happens to make the terms of the order unreasonable and unfair.  That could be things like a big increase or decrease in the income of the person paying support, a big increase or decreasee in the financial needs of the child, a change in the cost of living to either the parent paying the support or the parent receiving the support, or extraordinary medical expenses for the child.

If you are the parent paying support (what is called the “Obligor”) and you want to try to modify the support order, you will have to show both a substantial change in circumstances and that this change makes the order unfair in its current form. This is an important distinction because if only one of those two elements is met, you can’t modify the child support order.

What constitutes a substantial change in circumstances?  In Minnesota the law is very clear,In terms of income, a 20% change will must occur in order for the change be considered substantial.  If the parent paying support wants to decrease the amount of child support owed because of a 20% decrease in income, the decrease in income must not be the fault of that parent.  If you are in this position, you should talk to an attorney about seeking modification of the support order sooner rather than later, because the general rule is that modification of child support may only be made retroactive to the date of service of a motion—that is, the start of court proceedings for modification.  To m make matters even more confusing this change in income must also cause a $75 increase or decrease in the amount of child support paid.

What if you are the non-custodial parent and are paying child support, but your ex-spouse moves?  You may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of child support you pay if you’re going to have to pay more to be able to spend time with your child.  This is especially true if you end up paying high transportation expenses, such as for frequent air travel for both you and your child.

Some significant changes in your life may still not be considered the kind of substantial change that would support a child support modification.  For example, if the person paying support has a child with their new partner, this is generally not grounds for support modification.  However, if you are involved in court proceedings for a modification on some other ground, the court may consider the birth of the child as a factor in determining what your new support obligation should be.  And if either parent remarries, their new spouse’s income cannot be counted in determining the amount of child support.

Information obtained in mankatofamilylaw.com may contain knowledgable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-205-9736.

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Comments 48
  1. My partner has filed a motion to modify child support since his daughter has turned 18 and graduated. We have a court hearing set up, but how does he request to be back paid for the overage he paid since the motion was filed? Does he send in an affidavit to accompany the current motion or does he ask the Judge verbally on the date of the hearing?

  2. I have 2 girls one is 18 one 16, I am paying support on, I am retired as is my ex both of us have pensions. I have taken on 2 full time jobs since the divorce, My 16 year old doesn’t spend any time with me regarding the parenting time I have. My question is will the support go down when the 18year old graduates if I ask social services for a adjustment. or because I am working my two extra jobs will I be penalized because I’m trying to achieve my goals and by opening up the case I will get penalized. The initial settlement took in my retirement income and one extra job that I was doing part time, however now that job has a full time job along with another job that pays for where I live with a small income attached. I am still collecting my pensions. thank you roger

  3. My question is if I have to pay 900 dollars in support and need to get a second job to make my bills will this increase in income raise my support amount?

    1. Great question, short answer is usually not. If you work over-time or pick up a second job AFTER the case most magistrates and Judges I’ve dealt with won’t penalize you. Is this a guarantee that it won’t count against you? Heck no! Talk to a lawyer in your area and who knows what the judges typically do in your part of the state.

      Good luck!

  4. I have one simple question for you:

    Can the district court always modify a child support order or do they lose jurisdiction during an appeal?

    My ex and I were divorced in September of 2014. She has appealed the divorce decree. Since the time that the divorce was final, I have had to close my business. I was self employed for 12 years. I waited as long as I could to try to modify the support order, but I am now completely broke, unemployed, and can no longer afford an attorney.

    I filed a motion pro see to modify support, and that hearing was today. The county intervened and the magistrate dismissed the motion claiming he has no jurisdiction.

    This doesn’t make sense to me since the appeals court won’t set a child support amount, at most they will kick it back to district court to modify and I can file another motion after that if I want.

    It’s probably too late for me to do anything about this now that the hearing has passed, but I’m wondering.


  5. My child support order is issued in the state of MN, my ex wife has moved to NC. In MN the child support ends when your child turns 18 or finishes H.S. (no more then 20). In NC the law say child support ends at the age of 18, since she is living in NC and the child support is collected in MN which state law is supposed to be followed? Should she have to refile for support in NC?

  6. Thanks for explaining this. I work as a contract on W2 and just got a two-week notice my contract will expire. I pay alimony to my ex of about $3,000 per month. My income will be reduced 5 fold and will only get an unemployment compensation of $2,500 per month. What are my chances the alimony will be reduced? Also how long does it usually take for the judge to review and approve modification? The court is in Ramsey Cty, St.Paul. I assume I have to continue paying my ex alimony until the modification is approved. If the modification is approved, how will I get the paid alimony back from the ex? What if I stop paying the alimony before the modification of alimony is reviewed by the Court? Will it impact the Judge’s decision to modify or not to modify? I know the Judge is the God here so he can do whatever he wants. True?

    1. Lots of good questions let me try and break them down for you.
      1. No idea what your chances are, sorry I would need a lot more info…
      2. How long does it take? filing the motion, then getting into court then getting the Judge to issue an order can take from say 1-4 months. probably Closer to 3 If I had to guess off the cuff.
      3. you do have to continue to pay until the new order comes out, if there is an overage you’ll probably get a judgment and seek the payment that way.
      4. If you stop paying you can be held in contempt of court not a good idea.

  7. Hello, thank you for hosting this blog. Reading the other comments have prompted questions for me to ask and things to think about.

    My question – During the divorce proceedings, my then-wife started working for her future husband’s company about 1.5 months before the decree was signed. This was not disclosed. Her new salary was 15% higher than what was used in the spousal and child support calculation. We worked out a budget pre-lawyers and when we got to the stage of actually using the child support calculator we found out that I was actually paying more than the guidelines. I didn’t change the support, because again I thought she needed it. She is married to a wealthy person and now wants more child support from me. She says the kids’ expenses are higher and she needs more money, but as a couple have 4 cars, Vikings season tickets, take big vacations (not with the kids!), and he bought her a horse. Her current income is 40% higher than at the time of divorce. We have 50/50 legal/physical custody for 4 kids. What are your thoughts regarding her job change not being disclosed before the divorce was over? Is there fraud to pursue or just focus on adjusting child support based on her current income? If his income is being used to cover expenses for the kids and buy them iPads, etc, why isn’t his income factored in? Thank you for your time, G

    1. George,

      Thanks for you comment! This is a very simple question to answer. First, his (the new husband’s) income won’t be factored in at all. Depending on where you are on the state, some counties will be very open to a departure from the child support guidelines, but many will not. So, if your ex is making 40% more than she was at the time of the last child support order AND it would mean at least a $75 change in child suppport per month you can easily file the request yourself (it’s very simple and from what you described you probably won’t need a lawyer if you are both “W-2 wage earners”).

      The Minnesota Statute that covers this is 518A.39.

      Finally, I wouldn’t even bother with any fraud claim, instead I would go after a modification of the current order asap. Good Luck!

      1. Thank you for your response and highlighting that I can apply for the modification on my own. I appreciate your insight into the scenario as well. George.

  8. Hi Jason. I’m asking on behalf of my dad. I’m his adult daughter. He has 2 kids that he is paying child support for. At the time of their divorce he had been out of work for half a year or so and now is completely retired and therefore doesn’t have the potential to make the amount of money they used when the order was first given.. He gets a retirement pay and they take deduct money out from that but it is only 40% of that income and not the full support amount as he doesn’t make enough to pay the full amount so he’s constantly in arrears. My question regards social security. He’s of age.If he took up social security she would get a total of 1600 dollars a month because each Dependant would get $800. That $1600,is more than the current ordered amount of $760. Is it possible to redo the child support order and if he takes out his social security would that amount contribute to what he owes in arrears? Could he ask that the Social security tale place of child support? He is very hesitant to take it out because he wants to make sure that he can get out from under the child support when she automatically recieves her portion of the Social Security.

    A. L.

    1. Amber,

      Thanks for the Comment. Excellent question and one that the court has dealt with before, it depends on the exact type of social security, but the short answer is that normally the court would give a credit or offset towards the amount the children receives from social security against the amount of child support owed. SO, if he owes $1000 in monthly child support but SS pays the kids $900 he would owe $100/month. It’s a tad more complicated but not terribly so.

      Good luck!

  9. I have 3 children with my ex. We were never married but we have 50/50 custody. The custody is not court ordered, I just feel it was the right thing to do. I am now trying to get child support but the courts are calculating that I have them 100% of the time.
    I do not wish hardship on him regardless if we get along or not. I asked my case worker to help me figure out what it would be for 50/50 custody. She explained by law that since we were never married they have to go by the 100% and cannot help me with that.
    My ex is also pressuring me to cancel the order and we’ll work something out. I do not want to do this because at any point of time he could just not pay and I would have to start the year long process over again. I am not sure this is the right thing to do or what my options are.
    Is there anyway I can figure it out before we go to the court hearing so that I can present it to the judge?

    1. Summer,

      If the children were born out of wedlock and there is not a court order granting parenting time then your ex has no parenting time under the law. Since you mention case worker I’m guessing you’re getting some government assistance in which case you need to follow the what the order says or else they can cut some benefits.

      The easy thing to do is have him get a lawyer and draw up some papers that give him joint custody then present that at the child support hearing, it will go much smoother. Good luck.


  10. How hard is it to prove neglect, abuse or endangerment to a child, in regards to a custody situation? If my ex’s boyfriend lives in the house, and our child (4 yrs old) says that this person “hits him”, do i have any recourse? There is a child support hearing coming up soon, and i would like the court order to be changed to 50/50 physical custody. can i bring all of this up at the hearing? thank you

    1. Well you ask a few interesting questions, the first point I should make is that if the child support hearing is in front of the magistrate then the only issue you can deal with is child support (and the medical/daycare costs). You’ll probably need to file a motion. You can also check into an order for protection on behalf the child and finally don’t forgot calling the police, they can do an investigation and talk to social services.

  11. I have a question. My child’s dad and I haze been to court numerous times. He wants to lower child support, he doesn’t want to drive, an every thing else his new wife wants. He won 2 years ago to get child support lowerd to finish school. Well its about up an in the past 2 years he’s managed to pick his son up every other time, always trying to get out of having him. I’ve had to quit my second job and finishing school myself for lack of money an babysitters. In the past 2 years with the lowered child support he has gotten married, taken numerous vacations, gone to many rock concert and had had another baby may 1. It’s there anything I can do? My son hates going over there cuz he’s been replaced and his dad never had time for him to begin with. He is always missing birthday parties an his wife makes me drive 45 min to pick him up, ‘if I want my son back’ that is. Otherwise if I don’t drive they say they will just put him in school up there. I try to hide my son from all of this but I can’t anymore he’s to smart. When I try to talk to his dad about it, they call me jealous an rediculous. I’ve taken my son to therapy, even his teacher sends home e mails wondering what is going on at home. I never knew 4 days a month could affect a child so much. It breaks my heart. Anything I can do?

    1. If your income has substantially lowered then you sure can file a motion to modify child support, it’s pretty easy to do or if you hire an attorney it should not be very expensive.

  12. My child lives with me. My ex had Every other weekend year long and now has every other weekend during school and alternating weeks through summer. My ex is now modifying child support to try and pay nothing during the summer now that we both have equal parenting time during the summer. My ex makes more than I do and is in arrears but justifies that due to a job switch.(but still can afford an attorney). I have 2 other dependents and our child is his only. What are the possible outcomes that you would assume could happen or have seen happen in your experience.

    1. Teresa,

      Thanks for the question. Good question, what often happens is that the child support magistrate will look at the percentage of overnights throughout the year and apply that even during the summer. I suppose he could argue that the summer should be 50-50 BUT remember 50-50 parenting time does not equal no child support, it only means you’ll do an income sharing model. Look at the MN Child Support calculator and you can play with the numbers, pretty straightforward.

      If you are both wage earners, meaning you get a W-2 and are not self-employed, it’s a very simple process and one that you probably don’t need an attorney for. I think if you are organized, get your ducks in a row, you’ll be fine.

      Truly I wish you the best of luck.

      Jason Kohlmeyer

  13. HI,

    I have a question I am hoping you can answer. I have a 6 year old son and I live out of state. I was order to pay basic child support of $534 based on my income by Minnesota child support services. Added expenses was attached to this amount which brought the amount to $900.00. I asked the courts for a downward deviation from the total amount only to received the magistrate ruling increasing the basic child support to $900. I thought that if the magistrate did not agreed to the downward deviation I was requesting the lease was to enforce what is on the books but to get an increase? Is this normal? I tried asking around and the general answer I gathered is the high amount is because I do not live in Minnesota. Bear in mind that I have been supporting this child from birth up to this point something the mother even testified to. Also, this child has been on my insurance from the time he was born.

    Thanks you

    1. Rufus,

      Well, deviations are a bit tricky because there are so many fact specific issues to deal with. You do have a limited time to appeal it to either the district court OR the court of appeals, it might be worthwhile to look into it.

      Best of luck

  14. Hi
    I was served with child support papers the other day from my ex, we have two children together and are not legally separated nor legally divorced, my ex left me sept 2012 with the children, at that point she stated she did not want to be married to me anymore, I supported the children from sept 2012 through mid June of 2013 as she moved back to live with her parents, she had the kids from Friday nights to Sunday afternoons , mid June 2013 she stated she wanted the children for the summer, she took the children and decided within that summer that she was not returning the children, and enrolled them into school, she will not allow me to contact it see my children, in sept 2013 I moved three hours away and currently living with my current girlfriend … It has been a battle to see or even call my children, parenting time for me is impossible as she will not allow it. The county is asking me to pay child support of a total of 800+ (that’s including medical support) I am in a bind here, I have taxes to pay back as my ex has been claimin both children, single head of house hold leaving me no children to claim and with massive tax to pay back. Is there anyway the amount could be reduced or modify if I don’t have any parenting time with my children? I would love to see my kids but at this point my ex is making it impossible. How do I go about getting visitation rights? There are no court orders or documents stating I can’t. I have tried visitng them, to give them money and gifts, when I do it’s for a brief moment, she sends my son outside to retrieve the money for gifts and then I have to be on my merry way, a lot of the times it’s even hard for me to drop off gifts because she’s too busy and the kids are not available, I feel I have been involuntarily separated from my children, when I do go to child support hearing, would this be something I could mention to the court? I have no choice as to see my children at all and my ex is filing or has Filed for a ridiculous amount of child support


  15. Jason,

    We just received a letter from an attorney representing the mother of my step-son (hope that didn’t confuse you.) She and my husband were never married but my husband signed a ROP, hired an attorney and had a Joint Petition and Stipulation filed with the Court (Anoka C0) in 2000 outlining parenting time and child support. At that time it was the general 25% withholding. We have always paid her via check and gave her voluntary COLA increases.

    Gast forward to this year. Junior started driving and she is requesting we pay his vehicle insurance premium. We refused that request as that is what we figured child support was for. We also only have him every other weekend and weren’t involved in the decision for him to purchase him a vehicle.

    The letter is requesting my husband’s paycheck stubs and our tax returns to determine if the support we are paying her is fair and reasonable. I have used the online calculator estimating a very conservative wage for her and my husband’s actual wage with a 10-45% parenting time and credit for two of our four joint children he supports. It appears as if we would only have to pay her in the realm of $30 more dollars a month.

    The letter also indicates they would forgo the request for income if we would just pay the vehicle insurance premium of $150 a month.

    She now lives in Wisconsin. If she and her attorney decided to file for a modification, does it go back to Anoka County? Wisconsin law is not as favorable for us. We reside in Minnesota. Also-do we have to provide that information of can we just wait until they file for a modification? Granted-it doesn’t look like her support would increase over $75.


    1. Thanks for the email. Ok, couple things:

      They changed the child support laws in 2008/2009 and they don’t do a 25% any more, it’s a bit more complicated now. Typically the amount is less than that for one child. That should be considered.

      As for the car, you are right, you don’t need to pay for it and it is between your husband, the child & his mother, but you can work out any side agreements you wish.

      The child support should be heard in Anoka as they still have jurisdiction if they issued a child support order. You do have to provide the information under Minnesota law. but there isn’t a big penalty if you don’t do it, just the possibility of attorneys fees etc.

      Best of luck!

  16. Jason,
    Here’s my question.. I have been divorced for 4 years and have a 6 yr old child. My ex works a normal day job , I work evenings, but am expecting to be moving to the day shift permentaly in July. Prior to my child starting school I had her every morning until 1300 when I would leave for work (dropping off at daycare) every Thursday overnight and every other weekend. Since she’s started school I get from 0630 to 0800 and drop her off at school. I curios, is it likely that a court will rule in my favor when my shift changes to allow me to have my child 50% of overnights? Thank you

    1. John,

      Good question. If I’m understanding you right you have mornings with the kids right now. If you keep the kids and DON’T change shifts not many Judges will favor an overnight babysitter to Mom. when I say not many, I mean none.

      But if what you’re saying is you are going to a “normal” schedule such as 8-5 or so and you want to show how involved you were in the past, that might work. I’ll say Judges don’t care if the number is 50% that’s something that is really parent driven. Judges typically want to know why you want to change the parenting time and how it will benefit the kids (not you). If you can tie that in you’ll have a much better chance of success.

      Good luck.


  17. Jason, my ex recently took me to court for child support after receiving full custody of our son. I am currently disabled and receiving RSDI I was not aware that I would need medical documentation saying that I could not work as when speaking to the social security office I was told all I needed for court was the documentation they provided as I have to be 100% disabled to receive benefits. I brought this information along with questions about what my ex filed on his financial affidavit. He claimed to have child care expenses over 500 dollars however this is impossible because our child is only in daycare 14 days a month at a rate of $27.00 a day, I brought this to the attention of the magistrate he questioned the documents however despite all of the lack of evidence, questionable documents and lack of information by my ex the order issued is extremely unfair. The Magistrate imputed 1070 dollars of potential wages and based my support on that plus my current disability of 753 I am ordered to pay $371.00 for child support based on inaccurate documents in addition I pay child support on 2 other children this leaves me with 226 dollars a month to support myself and my child whom I have in my home more than 35% of the time. Can you offer any advice or assistance? I am in severe need of help as my ex , his lawyer and the judicial system are trampling all over me.

    1. Savanna,

      Thanks for the comment, you put all the facts in and it sounds like a tough spot to be in.

      My thoughts: Generally, you’re right if you’re disabled and receiving RSDI then that income won’t be factor into your child support or as is more common, that income will count, BUT they won’t impute income. Here it looks to me as if the Child Support Magistrate is not accepting that you are disabled and capable of full-time employment. Luckily, you can appeal to the District Court and have a Minnesota District Court Judge review the facts. That would be the first step that I would suggest.

      Next, a comment on what you need to prove you’re disabled. I wouldn’t say there is a document that will automaticly prove you can’t work, I would say that your approval of receiving Social Security Disability is enough, however a letter from your treating physician would certainly help.

      Thanks for reading and Best of Luck!


  18. I have a 5 year old with my Ex, she had an affair and moved in with her boyfriend and has since. We were separated for about 2 years and then finalized the divorce not even a year ago. The Child support calculator worked out that I should pay $266 a month in Child Support, she wanted $500, and had no good reason. For the sake of being done with the situation, I agreed to $300. We have Joint 50/50 Legal and Joint 50/50 Physical Custody. It is my understanding that the Child Support payment be used for child care and medical costs. I already pay $240/month in Day Care and $236 in Medical Insurance for the child, which is more than $300. She is trying to take me back to court for a modification to child support. What grounds does she have? other than i got a new job? If we have 50/50 and i already pay MORE than what i’m obligated to pay, does she have any ground to stand on?

    1. Dan,

      Thanks for the question, I get this a lot. It seems you have quite a bit of misinformation. Here’s a link that might help : what is child support?

      But in the meantime, child support payments DO NOT include child care or medical costs/insurance. Child care and medical issues are based on PICS or the percentage of income available for child support. So if the basic child support was $266 (assuming you each make the same amount of money) you’ll also pay 1/2 daycare and 1/2 the medical insurance & 1/2 unreimbursed medical expenses. No way around that.

      Also, I’m assuming you never had a lawyer to help you, the reason I say this is not to criticize but a family lawyer would have told you that the 50/50 part of custody is only one factor for child support, if you have 50/50 overnights and it’s in the order and you make more money than she does you will have to pay. The other issue the lawyer would have identified and told you is that child support can be modified just about anytime, there are a couple of minor requirements, but if you got a new job and are making more money then yes, she can modify.

      I’d suggest giving a call to a family lawyer, most will give you a free consultation and you can decide if it’s worthwhile to retain one, but you do have some misinformation that will hurt you in court. Good luck.

      -Jason Kohlmeyer

  19. Hello, I had 3 children with my ex wife before we divorced 7 years ago because she was cheating on me. We were separated when she had the youngest child who is now 8 and I have never been in his life. Not that I didn’t want to be but due to circumstances that was how it was. When he was 2 my ex asked me to sign over my rights and so that her new husband, the man she cheated with, could legally adopt him. She convinced me that it was the best thing for everyone and I did, I have regretted it ever since. I have recently found out that the child support that I have been paying has been for all three children. I do have a relationship with the other 2 children and am involved in their lives. I have asked the child support officer in the past if I was still paying for three children because he was still listed and was assured that no I was only paying for 2 and now I find out that was all a lie. I feel bad enough that I gave up my son now I feel totally cheated also. Is there anything that I can do? I have figured that I have paid over 17000 dollars in child support for a child that is not mine.


    1. Jason, great name and thanks for the question!
      Well, the short answer is no.

      I’m afraid you’ve made the mistake that so many people make and that is trusting what the child support officer says. They aren’t neutral, they don’t work for you, they aren’t lawyers, the required education to be a child support officer is exactly ZERO education and while there certainly are some great ones out there, they are generally few and far between.

      IF your ex did in fact adopt the child (not always the case even when they say it) and you’ve been paying whatever the divorce decree says then I’m afraid it is what it is. However, you can attempt to modify your child support if it’s wrong or either you or your spouse’s income has changed.

      This sounds like a case you really do need to get a family law lawyer to review your case, don’t delay on this. Remember that the order can only be changed from the date you filed the motion to modify your child support.

      Best of luck!
      -Jason Kohlmeyer

  20. I have a 13 year old son. His father was ordered to pay support when he was 4 years old. We were never married. I have had no further children. At the time of the order, the caseworker stated that the amount would not change – even if he had more children, because my son was his first child. Fast forward 11 years. He know has two ex-wives, and just had his fourth child with a brand new wife. So, he has my son to pay for, plus his two daughters with his second wife, and now a new baby with a current wife. Anoka county has just radically reduced my support. I am a single mom of one, my mother has terminal cancer and I support her (claim her on my taxes) she is penniless. I have bills and obligations based on the income i WAS getting. I am now really strapped – my house and car payments are a struggle. I have 100% legal and physical custody and he has no visitation “rights” has not seen his son since he was 6-weeks old – his choice/no interest. Do I have any recourse?

    1. Amy,

      well sorry to hear about your situation. Clearly the caseworker misspoke, child support can always change based on income, parenting time or substantial hardship. If for example he had his income lowered at his job, or is unemployed, it’s very possible that the Judge factored that in. Since your son is the first born future children don’t actually reduce he child support BUT if he triggers the poverty level exclusion which is based on income and number of children/dependents THEN that can seriously impact child support.

      As far as recourse, well, the way it works is the county doesn’t actually reduce the child support, they just make recommendations to the child support magistrate, so if you don’t like county’s number you can (and should) go to the child support magistrate and fight it. If that decision is not favorable then you can appeal that decision to the district court (but very limited timelines) and finally if it’s cost effective you can appeal it to the MN court of appeals.


  21. Hello,
    I recently got divorced. I worked a lot of OT while we were married as she stayed home with the kids. She now has a full time job. She moved 90 miles away and its a 3 hour round trip for me so I only see my kids two weekends a month during the school year. I get half the summer. My question is I want to move back to North Dakota to help my family out. My dad is disabled and mom works 50+ hours a week to keep everything together. But my lawyer told me I cant move or leave my job because i would “be willfuly under-employing myself” on purpose. I feel I need to be there for my family. I would get a new full time job, but in ND I wold only make half of what I make now. So it’s not like I woldn’t be paying anything. What are the rules with that?
    My second question is how long do I have to wait until I can modify my order to get the OT out of it? I have to work OT now because my order is based on 44 hours a week.

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for the question. First it’s not automatic that you would be considered under employed, usually that’s an issue for the magistrate and the child support court. I will say that typically if you change jobs and the pay cut is substantial it can be hard unless you have a very good reason. Is helping the family a good enough reason? Well it might be hard but you’ll need to convince the Magistrate that is in fact the case and the only way you may get an answer is to file a motion to modify child support.

      Which leads me to the next question. You can modify child support anytime there is a 20% change in income & $75, there isn’t an actual time frame such as 6 months or a year.

      I know it’s not a solid yes or no answer, but it sounds like you may have to just file the motion.


  22. Thanks Jason, but our case worker told me I need to get a Stipulation to Modify, which is only found in the Law Library of Ramsey County. He didn’t know if it costs money or what other forms I may need. Its a hassle to be sure. I think my best course of action would be to talk to the family law center that is attached to the child support enforcement division.

  23. I have two boys with my Ex, she got remarried, hasn’t worked in two years and also has two new kids with her husband. They moved to VA two years ago and gave me a month notice. I didn’t know my rights then, so I let her move. She closed our case while she lived in VA, but expected me to pay support. She lived out there rent free in a house, provided by her husbands family, on their land. I did give her money as often as I could, but I have a new baby to support as well. My Ex moved her family back (my eldest lived with me one year out of the two), bought a four bedroom house and just reinstated our case. They are living off her husbands savings until he can find a job, but it’s been three months now and no luck there. I am paying $696.00/month via income withholding. Our case gives me Friday-Sunday parenting time. I would LOVE to have them 45.1% or more, but alas, my low income prevents me from affording anything other than a small 2 bedroom. I live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes less than that. My girlfriend works part-time too, but we still can’t get ahead. What are my options if my Ex does not file a motion to modify (she agrees $696.00 is too high). Is there an easier way to speed things up? I am at my wits end here and just about ready to quit my job outright and drive to join those Occupy Wall Street protesters. At least then I would be living a life and not working for my Ex’s lifestyle. I only make $14.50/hour and have been cut to 7 hour days, hence I am taking a beating in many directions, thanks to the economic times and the child support system. I looked into hiring a lawyer but they cost anywhere between $1500.00 and $6k. I have no savings and no medical insurance. I do not have a car payment or credit cards. I have always tried to live simply in order to afford my child support. I would, in the end love to have split custody and pay zero support. Does my Ex being out of a job affect our case at all?

    Truly, A concerned father trying to do his best.

    1. Duane,

      Good comment. First thing’s first, from what you tell me you can go at anytime and modify your child support. Just go to the courthouse and you can request a modification of child support form, you don’t need a lawyer and you can file the request to have your child support lowered.

      Next, usually the other party needs permission to move out of state. If she didn’t get it then you have to go into court and either file a motion to enforce or seek to have her held in contempt. Either way, you need to go back to court and get your parenting time back. I hate to say it but you probably need a lawyer to do this and the reality is they aren’t cheap. You might apply at your local legal aid office to see if they will give you an attorney, you can call around but most lawyers are going to want something in the trust account to start the case.

      Good luck.

  24. In a motion before Hennepin County, modification of child support is now appropriate after almost 11 years and will result in a reduction of half (now $302) of what I am currently paying. However, I am in debt after ten years of paying 40 percent of my $15 per hour wage to my ex-wife for support of our then four children and trying to support myself and the children when they are with me. The ex-wife makes roughly $6,000 per month. I was awarded liberal parenting time and I also have the children during the summer. Is there much support that the HN County Court would consider my living condition and debts, her increased and substantial standard of living over my ability to provide little in my own home for our children, to deviate from the guidelines and further reduce the child support reduction and or order her to contribute to child support during the summer? Thank you.

    1. Greg, great question. I have to say that generally in my experience (I’ve been doing this for 11 years now) the child support magistrate generally won’t do a “downward deviation” based on your normal consumer debts such as credit cards, mortgage, car ,etc.. I know it’s frustrating because they give you a big packet and you list your living expenses and debts and all that, but they rarely factor it in.

      If you want to reduce your child support it sounds like you need to increase the amount of overnights you have. You probably know this but, if you have less than 10.1% of overnights you pay the full amount. Between 10.1 and 45 % you get a 12% reduction and finally if you have 45.1% or more of OVERNIGHTS (must be overnights) then you compare her income with yours and it sounds like she would be paying you support. This time MUST be in the order, if you got divorced 11 years ago and you don’t have the time you may want to consider going to modify custody/parenting time to deal with this because often this is the best way to reduce child support.

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