What Influences Payments: Two Major Factors
How much is child support? There are roughly a dozen factors. However, some of them are fairly rare. On the other hand, the two most common are:
- Parental Income. Awards since 2007 in Minnesota are calculated based on the monthly income received by both parents. We refer to this as Parental Income to Determine Child Support or “PICS”. Additionally, Minnesota has rules regarding what parental income is. Typically, any kind of gross income is included; the law tends to be over-inclusive regarding income sources.
- Parenting Time. As of August 2018, Minnesota replaced it’s 3-tiered Parenting Expense Adjustment (PEA) system with a more continuous system. Specifically, all parenting time orders must now have an overnight by overnight calculation for the amount of parenting time each parent has. For example, instead of seeing a percentage of parenting time, such as 49%, a parenting time order now needs to specify that the parent has 179 overnights. In addition, the PEA calculation is based on an average of two years.
As may be expected, one reason for parenting time arguments is its impact on child support calculations.
Other Factors That Impact Child Support
In general, the two most relevant factors that influence child support are parental income and parenting time. However, the following are additional factors that can change the total:
- Spousal maintenance awards
- Medical and dental coverage costs for Joint children
- Child support payments for Non-joint children
- Medical assistance or MinnesotaCare for Joint children
- Number of Joint Children
- Number of Non-joint Children
- Potential Income – If one parent is not employed (or underemployed), and the court finds that he or she is able to work, income can be “imputed” to that parent.
- Child Care Costs for Joint Children
- Child Care Assistance for Joint Children
- Social Security Benefits
- Veterans Affairs Benefits
The Importance of the Guidelines Calculator
In Minnesota, courts use the Child Support Guidelines Calculator to determine what’s called “guideline” support. In many divorce and custody cases, judges review a print out of these guidelines calculations. Courts can deviate from them. However, with no good reason otherwise, courts tend to order them.
Since the calculator is publicly available and used by the courts, parents can (and should) consult with the calculator to get an idea as to what child support may look like.
How Much is Child Support, using the Calculator
To make this calculation, you need to know each parent’s gross monthly income. In addition, you need to know what percent of parenting time each parent has. Specifically, a parent will need to know the number of overnights he or she has with the child over the course of a year.
Lastly, you will need to know information involving the additional factors that are listed above. For example, a parent will need to be able to answer questions such as, “What is the monthly amount each parent is ordered to pay for spousal maintenance?,” and “What is the monthly cost of health care coverage for the joint child(ren)?”
Child Support in Minnesota consists of basic support, child care support and medical support. The calculator “spits out” the guideline number for basic support. It also shows the PICS percentages. Courts use the PICS percentages to determine guideline child care support and medical support. Under the guidelines, each parent is responsible for his or her PICS share of child care and medical costs for the joint child(ren).
In sum, parents may use this method to add up basic support, child care support, and medical support costs to determine what a monthly obligation should look like. However, keep in mind that there is no obligation until ordered by the court.
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.