Minnesota's Family Law Blog

Minnesota Child Support Guidelines

Child support is a changing area of the law, if you speak to people who were paying support 10 years ago it is not the same system as today.  Starting January 1, 2007, Minnesota child support guidelines determine amounts by using all of the following factors:

  •  The gross income of both parents
  •  The number of Kids the parents have together
  •  The cost of medical insurance
  •  The cost of childcare/daycare (if applicable)
  •  The cost of unreimbursed medical bills (often called a co-pay)

The guidelines address 3 types of support: basicmedical, and child care support (daycare).

The State of Minnesota has put together a very good online Child Support Guidelines Calculator.  While not perfect, it can give a very accurate estimate of the amount the court may order in your case.  The first thing you will need to determine is gross monthly income.

What Is Gross Monthly Income?

Gross income is defined in Minnesota and is usually based on the following:

  •  Salary and wages (paychecks)
  •  Commissions
  •  Spousal maintenance (alimony)
  •  Potential income (if not working or underemployed)
  •  Workers’ compensation payments (both weekly and possibly lump sum)
  •  Unemployment payments
  •  Military retirement payments
  •  Pension and disability payments
  •  Social Security disability payments
  •  Social Security benefits paid to a parent base on the parent’s disability
  •  Income from self-employment or from running a business

Gross income does not include:

  • Overtime (unless it is required for work and even then that is a bit of an older definition)
  • Child support received for other children (prior born children)
  • Spouse or significant other’s income (even if living together)
  • Public Assistance
  • Child Support paid
  • Spousal Maintenance paid (this can be up for debate as well)

Parenting Time Adjustment

The next item that must be considered is the parenting time each parent has.  The court must consider the number of overnights that each parent has with the children.  It’s important to note that only overnights count, this means if you have the kids Monday through Friday from 6:00 am until 9:00 pm every day, it won’t count as parenting time when it comes to child support.  In Minnesota, there are three “tiers” of parenting time which it is affected.

  • 0-10 %
  • 10.1- 45 %
  • 45.1% +

Each of these tiers can affect child support in Minnesota.

Some of the basic questions that we receive quite frequently are listed below:

What is this Child Support Calculator I hear about?

Child support is based on a formula that the Minnesota Legislature has come up with.  It normally does not matter what the actual costs to raise the kids are.  You can look at the Minnesota DHS website and use the same calculator that Judges and lawyers use to determine what child support should be.

This is generally considered a guideline amount, this means that if there are no unique circumstances then, the court would probably order this amount.  Note, that regionally it’s very important to understand that in some parts of the state they rarely deviate (or change) the child support guidelines.  Make sure you talk to you lawyer about this very important point.

Does my spouse’s income impact child support?

No.  While this may not seem fair, the law is very clear that it doesn’t matter if your spouse remarries a doctor or someone on unemployed, the child support won’t change.

What if I can’t pay my child support obligation?

This is not a good situation to be in as the penalty for not paying child support can get to be fairly severe. It starts with losing your driver’s license, being held in contempt, losing your passport and finally you can be jailed.  This process can take some time, and most of the time the child support workers will work with you on payment plans (not changing the amount though) so you can get caught up.

Does Child Support go until 18 or 21 in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, child support goes until age 18 OR the child graduates high school, whichever is later.  In some rare circumstances, the court can order that child support continue until age 20, if the child is still in school, or if extreme circumstances if the child has health conditions past age 20.

Please note that unless you specifically agreed to pay for college, the Judge cannot order you to do so. Many people believe that they are required to pay for their children’s college, but this is not the law in Minnesota.

Does child support include extra-curricular fees, school lunch?

No.  Child support deals with only 3 things 1) cash payments, 2) health insurance (and unreimbursed costs) and 3) daycare expenses.  That means that sporting fees, clothing, shoes, just about any of the expenses that fall outside of health insurance and co-pays are outside the scope of child support and this means that unless there is something “extra” in the divorce or agreement, there is no requirement to pay or ability to get the other parent to pay.

Will I have to pay for my children’s private high school tuition as child support?

This is not a child support issue as much as a divorce or custody case question. However, private school tuition can be ordered during the divorce case.  If you have joint legal custody, you’ll want to have this discussion with your ex so that you can try and resolve it outside of court.

Does my Ex have to prove where the child support is spent?

No, there is no requirement that your Ex show you receipts or prove where the money went.  Minnesota law presumes that the money will be spent on the child and you neither have to prove where it went nor can you demand to know where the money was spent.

Do I have to pay for my child’s college?

No.  Minnesota law is very clear, that unless you agree to and it is formalized in a legal document you are not under any legal obligation to pay for your children’s college expenses.

Have A Question? Call us at 507-205-9736 or send us and email and we can discuss your case and see how we can help.

Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office | We Solve Family Law Problems