Child support is always a very controversial topic, most people who receive payments feel it’s not even close to enough to raise a child and most folks who pay it feel it’s way too much.
Currently, child support in Minnesota is based on mother’s income, father’s income and the percentage of overnights the order gives each parent. That last part is really one of the bigger issues due to what we call a “cliff.” If the non-custodial parent receives less than 45.1% of overnights, the amount he or she will have to pay is considerably higher than if they can get to the magic number of 45.1% of overnights.
The good news is that this should be changed Aug 1, 2018 when the new child support law comes into affect. Minnesota is going to adopt the Michigan model, which instead of a cliff is more of a gradual hill in terms of the amount of support. The actual numbers haven’t been approved by the legislature, but most of us suspect it will result in a substantial lowering of child support for parents who have 35-45% of overnights and an increase in child support for parents who have 46-49% of overnights.
Lets say for example, Sam and Casey are divorced and share 3 children together. Under the current law, if Sam brings in $3,000 per month and Casey takes home $4,000 per month and has less than 45.1% of overnights, the basic support would be $891 per month as opposed to $186 if Casey has the children a minimum of 45.1% of overnights. If we look at it in terms of a percentage of his income, it’s nearly 25% more of Casey’s income based just on a few nights a month. This is the issue the task force and the new law is trying to address.
The issue of imputation is another separate issue. For example, if Sam decides to quit working, the court can say Sam is “voluntary underemployed or unemployed” and the court can impute or say they should be making some income. The child support magistrate is the judicial officer who normally makes this determination and as in any job, there are good ones and not so good ones. A good Child Support Magistrate will look at the facts, the history and any extenuating circumstances before imputing income. However, some magistrates may be a bit overworked or not have all the facts to make an informed decision, it really can be a difficult issue.
Jason Kohlmeyer | Family Law
With over 17 years experience in high conflict family law cases, having received numerous awards and a frequent lecturer through both Minnesota and the United States on family law issues, Jason has decided to help people through a blog, answering some of the most common questions that people have during divorce and family law cases.