Whether you are a Minnesota couple with children that is separating or divorcing; even if you are an unmarried parent; there are some fundamental things that you need to be aware of regarding how the state approaches the issue of the well-being of your child.
The presumption going in, regardless of your situation, is that the child has a legal right to the support necessary for his or her proper care and upbringing to adulthood. The overriding concern of the courts is serving the best interests of the child and whatever support plan that is ultimately arrived at is intended to meet that goal.
Another aspect of Minnesota law is the expectation that every child has a right to financial support from both of the parents. Even if the child is in the custody of a third party, such as a grandparent, child support may be ordered by the court and both parents should anticipate that paying into the support effort to the extent possible.
Every state's laws vary but in general setting support payments can be done in one of three ways. The parents can negotiate terms, usually with the help of an experienced attorney. They might seek to resolve issues through alternative dispute resolution with a mediator or some other neutral third party. Or, they can turn the whole issue over to the court.
If your case does have to go to court, it is possible for you to represent yourself, but that can be a risky move. That's because the expectation is that you will know and follow all the rules and regulations of the court the same as a lawyer would. If you don't have experience in this regard, the outcome can be disastrous. All it takes is a quick look at the relevant statute involved and it becomes clear that the process can be complicated.
All that said it becomes clear why working with an experienced attorney is considered so important.