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Saint Paul Family Law Blog

Calculating child support in a Minnesota divorce

When parents choose to file for divorce in Minnesota, they must attend to a host of issues regarding the children involved in the marriage. One of the most important may be that of child custody and child support. States may adopt different models of calculating child support based on the parents’ income, time spent with the child and several other factors. Minnesota uses an income shares model of calculating child support, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. This is built off the belief that children should have the same financial support that they would have had if their parents would have stayed married.

Using this model, the child support is calculated off of both parents’ income, rather than just the non-custodial parents’ income like in some other states. Once this figure is determined, a percentage of the parents’ combined income is set as child support. Minnesota has a child support guideline chart that indicates the amount of base child support due, taking into consideration the number of children, as well as the parents’ gross income.

Modifying a child support agreement in times of need

Minnesota law is quite liberal when it comes to child support, even though it may not seem so at times. This is because, at the heart of the law, there is a desire for kids to have the economic support they need to develop into healthy members of society. However, the court also takes the needs of the parents into consideration.

It is not uncommon for a divorced parent to experience a change in financial and economic status after a marriage ends. These changes are not always for the better. If an individual were to fall on hard times, there could be a way to keep up with child support obligations and other responsibilities without lapsing on one or the other. 

Do courts penalize working parents in custody hearings?

One of the many questions parents in Minnesota have about divorce is whether they will be penalized in custody hearings for their work schedule. The more time a parent spends at work is less time the parent can spend at home with a child. If a parent has a full-time professional career, a judge might award more custody time to the other parent simply because the other parent has more time for the children.

According to the Huffington Post, judges in many custody hearings are interested in learning who the parent is that is the most involved with the child’s life. This could be either a father or a mother. If that parent served as the primary caretaker before the divorce, the court may choose to have that parent retain that role by awarding the parent the majority of custody time. This is not always the case, as some courts may decide on an even custody split between the two parents regardless.

5 ways for dads to make a good impression on the court

For men who worry that they'll be at a disadvantage in custody cases, the good news is that there are ways to make a good impression on the court. By following a few helpful tips, you can show you are invested in your child and that you respect the court and judge.

Here are five different things you can do to prepare for court and give off a first impression you can be proud of. Your attorney can help you prepare, so you are ready for your custody hearing.

Guarding against paternity fraud

Many Minnesota dads understand the importance of establishing paternity. Most want to do the right thing and put their names on the birth certificates of their children because they know, in the long run, the benefits of legal fatherhood far outweigh the drawbacks.

What happens, though, when kindhearted dads find themselves mixed up in paternity fraud when all they wanted to do was set the record straight? 

Why is paternity important?

If you are the father of a child whose mother you are not married to or who you are not currently in a relationship with, it is important that you establish paternity in Minnesota. This needs to be done legally so you have the proper legal standing as the child's father. According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, paternity gives you rights to the child and establishes your responsibility for that child. While getting legal documentation of paternity comes with many responsibilities, it also provides you with many benefits.

Establishing that you are a child's father means you will hold financial responsibility for that child. Basically, this means you will need to pay child support. However, it also entitles you to seek custody or visitation. If you do get custody of the child, then you would be paid child support by his or her mother. The bottom line is that once you are legally a child's father, you have the right to be in his or her life and to support your child the best you can. 

Can parenting time be determined without going to court?

One of the most common issues during a divorce is deciding on custody and related issues. As you work through your divorce in Minnesota, you may wonder if the court really must be involved in this process. In most cases, you can likely work out parenting time between you and your spouse. However, the Minnesota Judicial Branch notes that in custody cases involving paternity issues or domestic abuse, the court may have to step in. 

Parenting time is often called visitation. It is the agreement on how often the child will spend with each parent. It usually includes details on vacation schedules and may also include information on weekly schedules and holidays. If you can agree on a parenting plan, then you can file this plan with the court. The court will usually agree as long as the plan does not produce legal issues. 

Can you be punished for not paying child support?

You and your spouse have reached the end of your divorce and everything is being finalized from child support agreements to separation of shared assets. During this time, you may be given a requirement to pay so much money each month towards the expenses of your children. So, what do you do if you do not want to pay these payments? Are there punishments in Minnesota? The answer is yes. Your decision to be proactive about paying child support and consistently in paying on time will keep you from getting into legal trouble. 

What many people do not realize about refusing to pay child support is that their decision to go against the law can actually result in several inconvenient and frustrating consequences. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, authorities can enforce your requirement to make your payments by doing any of the following:

  • Reporting your debts to your credit bureau.
  • Denying your request to get a passport.
  • Suspending or even revoking your privilege to drive. 
  • Putting a lien on your property.
  • Withholding your income or federal tax returns. 
  • Intercepting international payments. 

Becoming a model father

One of the biggest challenges Minnesota fathers face in the aftermath of a custody agreement is making the absolute most of their time with their children. In fact, we find that a custody or visitation dispute serves as an impetus to become the best father possible for many of our clients. Whatever specific incident encourages the change— whether it is the stress of a prolonged divorce or a close call regarding custody— we are happy when our work at Huson Law Firm, PLLC., provides fathers with new motivation to connect with their children.

As you might know, fathers are treated differently in the eyes of the law depending on their legal paternity status. We often find that our clients become more confident in their abilities once they establish legal paternity. We also find that establishing paternity well in advance of a family law dispute often strengthens the father's position.

Does shared parenting time affect child support?

Many states, including Minnesota, are encouraging the idea of shared parenting. It is a different structure from the traditional custody arrangement where one parent has the kids most of the time with the other parent only getting visitations. Shared parenting allows parents to have more time in their children's lives and to parent together. However, such an arrangement may have an effect on child support.

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, child support is calculated using the incomes of each parent along with the parenting time awarded to each parent. If you have shared parenting, this can make a huge impact on the amount you must pay or that you receive. The basic idea is child support is to be used to pay for the expenses related to raising and caring for your child. If you have the child part of the time in your care, then you should not have to pay support for that time.

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