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Legal News in Minnesota

Is There a Limit for Child Support Payments in MN?

In decades past, a mother would have primary custody of the children after a divorce. The father would typically have the children every other weekend and on alternating holidays. And almost universally, it was the father that paid child support.

In the 2000s, times—and families—have changed.

  • There are more parents who were never married to each other.
  • It is not unusual for children to split their time 50/50 between both parents.
    • It is a myth that joint legal custody eliminates any child support obligations.
  • More same-sex couples are having families
  • Someone other than the parents may have custody of a child, including a grandparent or other relative.

Any parent or guardian seeking child support in Minnesota may wonder how much they could receive. While there are child support calculators on the internet, it is best to take these figures with a grain of salt. The best way to determine how much support you may receive is by speaking with a Minnesota child support lawyer.

How Child Support is Calculated in MN

Minnesota law has established guidelines for determining child support. These guidelines take into account:

  • The monthly income of both parents
  • How many minor children the parents share

These two factors are used to determine a figure called basic support. The basic support amount is then proportionately, and not necessarily equally, split between the parents.

Child Support Deviations

In specific circumstances, the law allows for deviations from the child support guidelines. The amount of support may be increased or decreased when:

  • There is income disparity between the two parents
  • One parent has debt owed to private creditors, if the debt was necessary to care for the child or to generate income
  • The child resides in a country that has a higher or lower cost of living than the U.S.
  • The child has “extraordinary” expenses, such as special educational needs
  • After paying payroll taxes, a parent would not have enough income to adequately support themselves

There may be other reasons that a court would find a deviation to be necessary and reasonable.

What is the limit for child support in MN?

Regardless of the amount one parent earns, there are limits to how much child support they could be required to pay. Minnesota has made it clear that child support is not intended to elevate one parent’s standard of living. In the 1980s, the state set this precedent when determining the child support obligations for singer Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates.

Hall had a child with a Minnesota resident, Andrea Zabloski. Per the state’s guidelines at that time, the maximum amount of support that could be paid for one child was $1,000. Zabloski’s request for a deviation from the statutory guidelines, based on the fact that Hall made considerably more money than her, was declined. Zabloski was unable to prove that their son had “extraordinary” expenses. And Hall maintained that despite having considerable income, his own personal expenses and standard of living were modest.

Today, the limits for child support are set forth in Chapter 518A.35 of the MN Statutes. In 2020, only the first $15,000 of combined monthly parental income is used to determine the basic support amount. However, a higher earning parent may be ordered to pay for other expenses, like childcare, medical bills, and health insurance.

Need Legal Help for Child Support in Minnesota?

During a divorce, determining child support is usually part of the divorce proceedings. However, child support can be determined if the parents were never married. Child support may also be re-assessed any time there is a change in income or other major life changes.

If you’re in the middle of a divorce or break-up, or would just like an assessment of your family’s current child support, please contact us. Our family law attorney, Amy E. Sauter would be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.