Child custody, parenting time and child support are core issues in any divorce with minor children, and they are the key issues at the end of a relationship for parents who weren't married. Because child support and child custody laws differ from state to state, it's important to ensure that you are getting accurate information about what to expect in your family court case. In some states, child custody, parenting time and child support are treated as totally separate issues, but in Minnesota, these issues intersect quite a bit.
Child support basics
Minnesota, like many other states, considers both parents' incomes when calculating child support. The court gathers all income information, including salaries, wages, commissions, unemployment, pension and disability benefits, and self-employment income, for each parent. A credit is given for child support of children who are not part of the existing case. The total of the two parents' incomes, and the number of children in the existing case, determines the amount of combined child support obligation, which is divided between the parents proportionately. Basic support is computed using the guidelines set out in Minnesota law.
Custody and parenting time considerations
In Minnesota, the amount of parenting time also has an effect on the child support calculation. If the parents have substantially equal parenting time and also have equal incomes, it is possible that no child support will be paid. If parents have substantially equal parenting time - meaning each parent is granted at least 45.1% parenting time - but their incomes are not equal, the parent with the larger income will pay some child support. If one parent is granted between 10% and 45% parenting time, a 12% discount is applied to determine the basic child support amount. If a parent has less than 10% parenting time, no adjustment to the guidelines amount is permitted.
It is important to note that the basis for the adjustment is the amount of parenting time granted by the court, and it is not dependent upon how much time a parent actually spends with the child. It is also important to note that other factors can influence a court's determination of child support, such as the family's standard of living, the special needs of a child, or extraordinary expenses incurred for the child, and how the parents share or divide these expenses.
Consult with an attorney for more information
While it's true that Minnesota child support is determined by a formula and both parents' incomes are considered, the process is still complex. Arguments can be made for an increase or decrease in the guidelines child support. For information specific to your situation, it is best to contact an experienced family law attorney.