Written by: Ben Olson
Question: Can child support be based on overtime income?
Answer: Minnesota law allows the Court to consider overtime income when calculating child support, but only in limited circumstances. Read the discussion below to learn more.
Discussion: In Minnesota, child support is based on both parents’ gross income. Gross income is what you are paid before taxes and other deductions are taken out of your paycheck. A parent’s gross income does not include overtime income, or income from a second job, as long as each of the following conditions are met:
- Child support is set at or above the guideline amount;
- The parent began earning additional income after a legal action requesting child support was filed (i.e., a divorce or petition to establish child support);
- The parent has not had similar additional income in the past two years;
- The parent is not required to work overtime;
- The parent’s additional income is paid by the hour or fraction of the hour; and
- The parent’s compensation structure has not been changed to avoid paying a child support or spousal maintenance obligation.
Condition #1: Minnesota Courts use a formula to calculate child support. The formula takes into consideration both parents’ income, the number of children of the family, the cost of childcare, the cost of medical and dental insurance, parenting time, and several other factors. To make using this formula easy, the Minnesota Department of Human Services created the Child Support Guidelines Calculator, which can be accessed by clicking here.
Lawyers and Judges are required to use this calculator when determining child support. Once basic information is plugged into the calculator, it determines the amount one parent should pay the other. This amount is often referred to as “guideline child support.” If for some reason child support is set below the guideline amount, the Court can base child support on overtime income.
Condition #2: A lot of parents pick up hours or get a second job when they are asked to pay child support. Condition #2 recognizes that it would be unfair to punish those parents by calculating child support using their additional income. But if a parent started working overtime before a legal action for child support was filed (i.e., a divorce or petition to establish child support), the Court can consider their overtime income when setting support.
Condition #3: When asked to base child support on overtime income, Courts will look to whether the parent has had similar overtime in the previous two years. Simply put, if a parent has a history of working overtime, Courts can consider that additional income when calculating child support.
Condition #4: This is perhaps the most important condition. If a parent is required to work overtime, the Court can consider that additional income when setting child support.
Condition #5: Overtime income is almost always paid by the hour or fraction of the hour. If it is not, the Court can consider that additional income when setting your child support obligation.
Condition #6: If a parent changes his or her compensation structure to avoid paying child support or spousal maintenance, the Court can consider all income when setting child support. Said differently, a parent cannot re-classify some income as overtime in order to avoid a higher child support obligation.
Summary: Like most legal questions, whether a Court will base child support on overtime income depends heavily on the facts of each case. Generally speaking, Courts will protect those parents who have decided to pick up extra hours to meet their child support obligation. On the other hand, parents who are required to work overtime, or who have a history of working overtime, may be obligated to share that additional income with their child(ren).
Ben Olson is a family law attorney at Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC. He focuses his practice on cases involving child support, child custody, parenting time, and orders for protection. Visit his bio here to learn more about Ben.
This article is meant to provide general information about Minnesota law. Do not rely on this information as a substitute for personal legal advice, which should be based on all relevant information relating to your individual circumstances. This information may not accurately describe the law in other states.