Income Tax Returns and MN Child Support

Often I am asked about modifying child support after the divorce decree has been entered.  Sometimes a person receiving child support believes that child support payer has received a significant increase in income and that if child support were recalculated, the child support payment would be higher as a result.  The question is how to obtain information about the child support payer’s new or increased income after the divorce is concluded.

There is an easy way and there is a more difficult way.  The easy way is to demand a copy of the person’s most recent federal and state income tax returns.  There is a provision of the Minnesota child support statute (Minn. Stat. 518A) that allows the person receiving child support to demand and obtain copies of the other person’s state and federal income tax returns every two years.  In fact, the statute also allows the person who is paying child support to obtain copies of the payee’s income tax returns, too.  This is because both person’s incomes are used when child support is calculated or adjusted.

The more difficult way is to notice a motion to modify child support and then engage in formal discovery.  If the motion is brought in the administrative process, the person seeking the information may need the approval of the child support magistrate in order to enforce the request.  If the request for information is reasonable, the magsitrate will likely grant the request.  If a person owns his or her own business, there might be information about his or her income that is not disclosed on a personal federal or state income tax return.  Often, people can hide income in their business by having the business pay their personal expenses–their car payment, car insurnace, food, rent, clothing, etc. All of the payments that a person’s business makes for his or her personal expenses is considered income to that person.  In a case like that, the party seeking to modify child support may need to conduct some discovery in order obtain all the information that is needed.

If you have any questions about this or any other Minnesota divorce issue, feel free to contact Minneapolis divorce lawyer Dan Fiskum at (952) 270-7700.

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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