Child Support in Minnesota

Child Support - Children Playing Hockey
Child Support can be very pricey

Raising a Child is Expensive

Child support in Minnesota is an issue for many parents. Raising a child can be very expensive.  For example, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Expenditures by Children on Families annual reports.  It will costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child to his or her 18th birthday.

Also note, this estimate doesn’t include any costs associated with pregnancy and child birth.  The estimates also don’t include higher education costs.

Of note however, this estimate depends on factors such as, household income, geographical region, and number of children.  If instead you’re interested in estimates more specific to you, try the USDA’s cost of raising a child calculator.

What is Child Support in Minnesota?

Child support in Minnesota is legally defined as: An amount for Basic Support, Child Care Support and Medical Support pursuant to a court order.  Court orders can come out of custody, divorce, legal separation, annulment or paternity cases. 

These three different components (Basic Support, Child Care Support and Medical Support) make up what people refer to as “Child Support.”

Therefore, all three parts (Basic Support, Child Care Support and Medical Support) must be addressed in any child support order.

A Three Part System 

PART 1 – Basic Support

Basic support is the cost of meeting the day-to-day needs of the child. Specifically, basic support involves the cost for food, clothing, and shelter.

PART 2 – Child Care Support

This is the cost to place the child with a child care provider.  Child care support arises when a parent has to place the child with a child care provider while working or going to school. Child support guidelines divide child care expenses based on parents’ income.  Typically as children get older child care costs reduce or go away.

PART 3 – Medical Support

Medical support is the medical and dental insurance costs for the child. It also includes out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses.  Child support guidelines also divide medical expenses based on parents’ income.

How to Calculate Child Support 

Child support is primarily determined by:

  • The total gross income of both parents, and
  • The parenting time each parent has with the child.

There are other factors that sometimes contribute to a child support award.  The Minnesota statute outlining those factors can be found here. However, gross income and parenting time are always present and therefore the most-argued issues.  Here is the Minnesota guidelines calculator for child support.

Parents’ Income for Child Support

As previously mentioned, child support is based on the total gross income of both parents. Therefore, the gross income of each parent is needed to calculate child support.

Gross income is the total amount of income from a parent before taxes, as defined by Minnesota Statutes 518A.29. The following is what can be included in parental gross income:

  • Salaries, Wages, and Commissions
  • Self-employment income
  • Workers’ Compensation and Unemployment Benefits
  • Annuity Payments
  • Military Retirement Payments
  • Pension distributions
  • Disability payments
  • Spousal maintenance awards
  • Social security or veterans benefits provided for a joint child
  • Potential income

In addition, gross income on salaries, wages, commissions and other compensation is calculated before reducing for costs like 401(k) and health insurance deductions.

Common Disputes

Paying another parent, particularly if there is hostility from the end of a relationship, can also create conflict.  However, child support arguments are rarely over how child support was calculated. Minnesota uses the guideline calculator to determine the amount of guideline child support.    Because of this, child support calculations are fairly straightforward.

Instead, child support disputes more often involve the underlying factors that influence child support. In other words, parents may argue about what numbers go into the calculator.  Parenting time and parental income, as stated above, are the most prominent of these factors. Therefore, parenting time and parental income are typically the most disputed issues.

Lastly, as noted above, parenting time impacts child support calculations. Sometimes, parenting time arguments are really veiled child support arguments.  Legal professionals and Judges are well aware of this.

For other divorce or family law questions, please consult the list to the left or the FAQ page.  If you’re interested in retaining an attorney to help you, please feel free to contact my office for a consultation using the contact information on the left or the contact form on the Majeski Law home page.  For the Minnesota Child Support calculator, click here.