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How to Modify (Change) an Existing Support Order
A parent can ask the court to change an existing child support order by filing either a Stipulation (agreement) or a Motion to Modify Support. The law on changing a child support order is online at MN Statute § 518A.39.
Stipulation (agreement) to Modify Support
If all parties agree to change support AND sign a written agreement, they can file a Stipulation with the court. In the Stipulation, the parties should explain how the change in support is in the best interest of the child.
After a Stipulation is filed, a judge (or magistrate) will review it. If the judge agrees with the terms of the Stipulation and signs it, then that becomes the new child suppport order. There is no guarantee that the judge will agree and sign the Stipulation, and the court might require you to attend a hearing to discuss it.
Public Assistance: If either parent or the child gets public assistance, the parties must give their County Child Support Office an opportunity to review the Stipulation BEFORE filing it with the court. In some counties, if the child support office agrees with the Stipulation, the County Attorney must sign the Stipulation form.
Stipulation Forms: The MN Judicial Branch does NOT publish sample Stipulation forms. You might find sample forms at your local law library, or you could talk with an attorney to get help drafting a Stipulation.
Motion to Modify Support
The party filing a Motion to Modify child support must explain in their papers that there has been a change in circumstances that makes the current support order unreasonable or unfair. A change to a child support order can only include the time period back to the date the Motion to Modify was "served" on the other parties.
If the County Child Support Office is involved in the case, a party can ask the child support office to bring a Motion to Modify the order based on a change in circumstances, but not all counties will do it or there may be a wait to get services.
What to Do if You Don't Know the Other Party's Address
You need the address of the other party to serve them with copies of your court papers. If you do not know the address, you must make reasonable efforts to try to get it. Ask friends or relatives, look in the telephone book, or search on the Internet. See also How Can I Find Someone?.
If you cannot find a mailing address and the County Child Support Office is involved in your case, you can fill out a Request for Child Support to Serve and file it with the court to ask a judge to order the Child Support Office to mail your papers to the other party's last known address. If the judge grants your request, you then bring a copy of your papers and the order to the County Child Support Office and they will mail the papers to the last known address of the other party.
Changing an Order When a Child Turns 18 and Has Left High School
IMPORTANT! Read your child support order to see if it deals with how long support must be paid. Orders often say something like "until the child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever is later," or it might have other requirements. NOTE: If the parents have multiple children together and one of the children turns 18 and has left high school (age 20 at the latest), the support order will NOT change automatically. In some cases, the amount might even go up. Use the Child Support Calculator to figure out what your new support amount might be under current Minnesota law.
If the County Child Support Office is involved in the case, it is the responsibility of the parents to notify the County when a child turns 18 years old and has left high school (age 20 at the latest). Some counties closely monitor cases and will automatically stop collecting the support, but some require that you file a Motion to Modify Child Support (ex pro) to end support. Contact your support caseworker for help.
If the County Child Support Office is not involved in the case and one parent pays the other parent directly, the order for child support will NOT change automatically when a child turns 18 and has left high school (age 20 at the latest.) A parent must file a Motion to Modify Child Support (Dist.Ct.) or a "Stipulation" form (if parties agree) to stop or change the obligation to pay support.
If there are any support arrears (unpaid amounts), this could affect when the duty to pay support will end.
Emancipation: Legal "emancipation" of a minor child may affect the duty to pay support. Talk with your child support caseworker or get advice from an attorney if this is your situation.
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