Several changes to Minnesota’s child support laws went into effect August 1, 2018. These changes had a big impact on how child support is calculated in our state.
How is child support calculated in Minnesota?
Minnesota Courts use a formula to calculate child support. This formula takes into consideration both parents’ income, the number of children in the family, the cost of childcare, the cost of medical and dental insurance, and several other factors. Minnesota Courts then apply what is known as the Parenting Expense Adjustment. The Parenting Expense Adjustment reduces a parent’s child support obligation to offset costs associated with his or her own parenting time.
From 2007, until August 1, 2018, the Parenting Expense Adjustment was calculated based on three categories of parenting time. Parents with less than 10% parenting time receive no reduction. Parents with between 10 and 45% parenting time saw their child support obligation reduced by 12%. And parents with more than 45% parenting time were presumed to share costs equally with the other parent.
This way of calculating the Parenting Expense Adjustment caused parents in similar circumstances to be treated very differently.
The new law replaces the three broad categories currently used to calculate the Parenting Expense Adjustment. Instead Courts will use an equation that takes each overnight over a two-year period into consideration. The goal is to introduce a system where gradual increases in parenting time correspond with gradual decreases in child support. For most families, the new law will accomplish that result.
Who is affected most?
Child Support Obligors: The parent paying child support is known as the obligor. Most obligors with between 30 and 45% parenting time would pay less if their child support obligation were calculated under the current law. On the other hand, most obligors with between 10 and 30% parenting time would pay more.
Child Support Obligees: The parent receiving child support is known as the obligee. Most obligees with between 55 and 70% parenting time would receive less if their child support award were calculated under the current law. Most obligees with between 70 and 90% parenting time would receive more.
Can you take action?
To modify child support in Minnesota, a parent must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances. Courts will assume that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred if applying the new law would result in a child support order at least 20% and at least $75 higher or lower than your existing order. You can access an unofficial online child support calculator that incorporates the upcoming law changes by clicking here. This tool can help you determine whether you meet the 20% and $75 threshold.
Whether you can benefit from the new child support law depends largely on whether you pay or receive child support and on your parenting time schedule. The attorneys at Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC are experienced in handling child support matters and can answer your questions about how the new child support law applies to your family.