How To Modify Child Support in MN

People often ask how to modify child support in Minnesota.  Sometimes this process is not complex and it can be done without an attorney.   More often the process is complex and you need an attorney.  I always recommend that people have an attorney when going to court.  Of course, I’m an attorney.  What else would I say?  But, I know that some people cannot afford an attorney.

Here’s the deal: in order to modify child support, you have to argue (and prove) that there has been a significant change in circumstances that makes the terms of the current child support order unreasonable and unfair.  There is a rebuttable presumption that the terms of the current support order are unreasonable and unfair if an application of the Minnesota child support guidelines to the new financial situation results in a new child support obligation that is both 20% and $75 per month higher or lower than the current child support obligation.

If you do not understand what I just said, you need an attorney.

There are different rules that apply when child care ends, when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school, when a new child is born, etc.

If you lose your job, you need to formally serve and file a formal motion to reduce or suspend child support immediately.  The reason for this is that a request to modify child support is only effective ( retroactive) to the date that the motion was served. 

This is an important point.  Put another way: if you loses your job in January, and have no income, but you wait until July to ask the court to lower or suspend your child support, you are going to owe payments for January through June.  Even if you can show you didn’t have a job during that time, you will still owe the money.  You have to bring a motion, and if you do not, you owe the money.  Even if you didn’t have a job.  Some people say that this isn’t fair.  The court will apply the law and in effect say, “So what?” 

Iif you fail to bring a motion immediately, you will have child support arrearages that are harder to get rid of than a bad tattoo that you got on a drunken and debauched night when the ship was in port.  The only way to get rid of a child support arrearage is to pay it, with interest.  So, bring the motion immediately so that you do not accrue child support arrears.

Its not about “fairness.”  What you might think is “fair” is probably different than what someone else thinks is “fair.”  My experience is that people who pay child support disagree strongly about what is fair with people who receive child support. 

Forget “fairness.”  Its about following the law.  If you don’t know the law, you need to lawyer up.

Daniel Fiskum is a Minnesota divorce attorney who has been practicing since 1992. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has been named a "Super Lawyer" by the Minnesota Journal of Law and Politics. Mr. Fiskum is currently writing a book for attorneys and non-attorneys entitled "The Streetfighter's Guide to Divorce," which is scheduled for publication in May, 2010. Many of his blog entries will appear in the book. You may contact attorney Fiskum directly at (952) 270-7700. His office is located in the Carlson Towers in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The Fiskum Law website is found at www.fiskumlaw.com.

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