Basics of Establishing Child Support in Minnesota

January 6, 2012 - by Eric Anderson

The parents of minor children (under 18) have a duty to provide financial support for their children.  When people get divorced, legally separated, or have their marriage annulled, the court must enter a "just and proper" order for the payment of child support.  New child support laws became effective in Minnesota on January 1, 2007, and are set out in Minn. Stat. Chapter 518A.  

Child support is money paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help pay for the child's upbringing and expenses.  The support consists of three separate parts:  (1) basic support, (2) child care support, and (3) medical support.  Basic Support consists of money towards a child's housing, food, clothing, transportation, education, etc.  Child Care Support consists of money towards child care costs (such as daycare) while a parent is at school or at work.  Medical Support consists of money towards health and dental insurance premiums, as well as dividing up uninsured/unreimbursed medical expenses incurred.

The amount of child support required is determined using the formulas set out in the statutes cited above.  Take a look at the statute to see the exact formula, but generally speaking, the gross income of both parents is combined to determine the combined parental income for determining child support (PICS).  Each parent is then assigned a percentage share of the combined PICS.  This percentage is applied to the total child support figure as set out in the guidelines.  Credits are given for a number of factors, such as parenting time with the child and the number of nonjoint children in the household.  The PICS percentage is also applied to health care costs and child care costs to determine those levels of support.  

Attorneys, judges, and child support officers often use the Child Support Calculator - provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services - to get an idea of what the statutory guideline amount of child support should be.  The calculator is easy to use and parties should make use of it to get an idea of the probable amount of their obligations.  Parties are free to negotiate the amount of child support and enter into stipulations.  However, deviations from the guideline amount requires good reasoning and specific findings by the court.  

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.