Modifying Child Support in Minnesota

October 18, 2011 - by Eric Anderson

Parents have a duty to financially support their minor children.  Child support is more important than any other financial obligation in the eyes of the courts.  The court's primary concern in all family law cases is the welfare and best interests of any minor children involved.  Minnesota judges are generally unsympathetic if you are missing your child support payments due to your own personal expenses.  

That being said, sometimes your financial circumstances have changed and you really are unable to meet your child support obligations as originally set.  The current economy is certainly not helping the situation.  Maybe you lost your job or have become disabled.  However, you are still legally required to keeping paying the original child support amount unless and until the court orders a modification.  You must be proactive in seeking a child support modification if your circumstances have substantially changed.  A modification is only effective from the date you file your motion.  Don't let those arrears accumulate.  Note that a child support modification motion can be initiated by the obligor or the obligee.  

Child Support Modification is governed by Minn. Stat. Section 518A.39.   The petitioner must show that the terms of the current child support order are "unreasonable and unfair" due to one of the following circumstances:

  1. Substantially increased or decreased gross income of an obligor or obligee;
  2. Substantially increased or decreased need of an obligor or obligee or the child or children that are the subject of these proceedings;
  3. Receipt of assistance under the AFDC program 
  4. A change in the cost of living for either party as measured by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics
  5. Extraordinary medical expenses of the child not provided for under Minn. Stat. Section 518A.41 (medical support)
  6. A change in the availability of appropriate health care coverage or a substantial increase or decrease in health care coverage costs;
  7. The addition of work-related or education-related child care expenses of the obligee or a substantial increase or decrease in existing work-related or education-related child care expenses; or
  8. Upon the emancipation of the child

Important Tip.  If your child support order covers two or more children, but does not specify a certain amount per child, then your child support obligation continues in the full amount even if one or more of the children emancipate.  Emancipation does not automatically reduce a child support obligation.  You must still bring a motion to modify the support order.  

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.