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Basics on Child Support

"Child support" is court-ordered payments for the financial support of a child. Under Minnesota law, a child has the right to be financially supported by both parents.

Who Can Ask for Child Support

  • A parent: generally, when parents do not live together, they can go to court and ask for an order establishing a set amount for child support.
  • Another person: someone who has third-party custody of a child, such as a grandparent, may also ask the court to order one or both parents to pay child support to the third party.
  • County Attorney's Office: usually the local county attorney's office will start a child support case if either parent receives public assistance for the child and they are not married and living together. See "Help from the County Child Support Offices."

 » Learn how to get child support.

How Child Support is Calculated

Child support includes the following three parts:

  • basic support = payments for the costs for a child's housing, food, clothing, transportation, education, and other expenses to care for the child,
  • medical support = providing health and dental insurance, payments for the costs of health and dental insurance that the other parent provides, and payments for uninsured or unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, and
  • child care support = payments for child care (day care) costs when parents go to work or school.

NOTE: Buying gifts or other things for the child does NOT count as child support .

Minnesota law uses a method of calculating child support called "Income Shares." The law has Child Support Guidelines that use both parents' gross income, the number of children, and the cost of raising a child at various income levels. See MN Statutes § 518A.34.

Child Support Calculator

TIP! Use the online Child Support Calculator to estimate the amount of child support owed in your case. The calculator gives you Worksheet that you can print after you enter your information.

Important Legal Factors in Calculating Support

  • The Income Shares formula includes the gross income of BOTH parents in figuring the amount of child support.
  • The amount of court-ordered parenting time (visitation) is considered in calculating "basic support." If a parent has the child between 10% and 45% of the time, the parent gets about a 12% adjustment (reduction) in child support owed. If the parenting time is less than 10%, there is no adjustment to child support. Percentage of time is generally calculated by counting overnights the child spends with the parent.
  • The law presumes that both parents can or should work and earn an income. The Income Shares formula considers this "potential income" as a factor in determining support.
  • By law, if the parties do not provide specific details about their income, the court will set child support based on other available evidence, including past work experience, testimony of the other parent, or it can set a minimum amount provided for in the law, including up to 150% of the current federal minimum wage or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

 

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