Minnesota’s child support law

People who are getting divorced in Minnesota often ask questions about Minnesota’s child support laws.  The Minnesota child support statute changed significantly in 2007.  If you were divorced before 2007, you are probably operating under the “old” system.  If you were divorced after 2007, you are operating under the new system.  You can read the entire Minnesota child support statute here: http://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?year=2006&id=518A

The main difference between pre-2007 and post-2007 child support laws is the method by which child support is calculated.  Under the old law, the key element was which parent had physical custody.  The parent with physical custody was owed child support by the other parent.  The amount of support was a percentage of the other parent’s net income, or take-home pay: 25% for one child,30% for two children, 35% for three children, 39% for four children, and so on.

The new child support law looks at the income of both parents.  Now, which parent has physical custody has nothing to do with it.  The important concept is “parenting time.”  Under the new law, each parent has a child support obligation.  The amount is determined by looking at each parent’s gross (before tax) income.  The calculation is fairly complex, and I use a computer program to figure it out.  You can use the same computer program I use by going here:  http://childsupportcalculator.dhs.state.mn.us/Calculator.aspx

However, now in Minnesota, the amount of parenting time has a direct impact on the amount of child support.  The more parenting time one has, the less child support he or she has to pay.

Let’s face it folks: when people get divorced, its mostly about the money:  Who gets how much.  Who pays what bills. 

I’ve been praciticng divorce law in Minnesota since 1992.  Back then, people would fight about who got physical custody,  because the “winner” would receive more money.  The legislature thought that by changing the child support law they would create a system that was more fair and that led to fewer disputes.  They were wrong.  Now people fight about parenting time.  And, the “winner” still receives more money.

A lot of attorneys and others who comment on the state of family law in Minnesota would have you believe that divorce can be wonderful, that you can just spend an hour or two in mediation, resolve all of your differences fairly, reach a fair agreement and every thing will be great.  But, if your marriage relationship has come to the point where you are getting divorced, that should be pretty good evidence that you can’t get along, that you can’t have fair discussions and that you can’t reach agreements.  If you could do that, you probably wouldn’t be getting divorced.

So maybe its time to contact an experienced divorce lawyer?

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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