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Last Reviewed August 2010

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Child Support Guidelines

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This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.

In May, 2005, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill making significant changes to Minnesota’s existing child support laws and introducing new child support guidelines. Prior to passing this bill, Minnesota was one of only 13 states that did not consider both parents' income in the calculation of child support. Minnesota had traditionally assigned child support payment to the parent who was not awarded primary physical custody. Child support obligations are now based on the "gross income" of both parents and the "parenting time" for each.

Laws of Minnesota 2005, Chapter 164, became effective on January 1, 2007 for new child support cases. Minnesota parents filing an action or motion with a child support order in 2007 and beyond use the new guidelines.

Key components of the 2005 law:

  • Establishes guidelines to help courts determine child support based on the parents' combined gross incomes.
  • Allocates child care and medical support based on the income of each of the parents and defines what appropriate medical coverage is for the children.
  • Presumes that both parents are entitled to have custody of their children 25 percent of the time.
  • Allows for the adjusting of child support every two years based upon a change in the cost of living.
  • Grants parents a "parenting expense adjustment," essentially a 12 percent reduction on payments if they spend a certain amount of time with the children (from 10 to 45 percent of the time).
  • Allows for deductions from a parent's monthly gross income for non-joint children in their home.
  • Allows for a six month review hearing upon the request of either parent.
  • Increases divorce filing fees by $50 and child-support modification fees by $35.
  • Requires the Department of Human Services to develop a Web-based child-support calculator.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Child Support Enforcement Division supervises the child support program. County child support offices administer it by working with parents to establish and enforce support orders. For more information from the Dept. of Human Services, please see the first entry under Significant Internet Resources within this guide.

Some clarifications were made to the 2005 child support/custody legislation in the 2006 session. Custody considerations in moving a child to another state are addressed in more detail. Voluntarily unemployed or underemployed parents have child support calculated based on potential income (see Minnesota Statutes, section 518A.32, subdivision 2 for determining potential income). The 2006 language also clarifies the support order as it relates to those who receive public assistance. Basic support guidelines were updated.

For a summary of changes to child support laws in the 2007 legislative session, see the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information publication, New Laws 2007: Child Support Changes.

For a brief summary of changes to child support laws in the 2010 legislative session, see the Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information publication, New Laws 2010: Child Support Regulation Changes.

Legislative History:

Significant Books and Reports:

Aves, Lynn. Minnesota's Child Support Laws: An Overview (Updated). St. Paul: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, September 2011. (KFM5504.8 .A94 2011)

Aves, Lynn. Child Support: Basic Questions (Updated). St. Paul: Research Dept., Minnesota House of Representatives, September 2009. (HN79.M6 S56 2009)

Child Support Enforcement: Evaluation Report. St. Paul: Office of the Legislative Auditor, Program Evaluation Division, 2006. (HV742.M6 C45 2006)

Evaluation of Minnesota Child Support Enforcement Mechanisms and Programs: Report to the Minnesota Legislature. St. Paul: Child Support Enforcement Division, Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2013. (HV742.M6 E93 2013)

A Guide to Child Support & Spousal Maintenance Cost-of-Living Adjustments. St. Paul: Office on the Economic Status of Women (OESW), 2010.

Minnesota Custody and Child Deskbook. St. Paul: Minnesota State Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education, 2006. (KFM5504.6.Z9 M56 2006)

Minnesota Child Support Performance Report. St. Paul: Child Support Enforcement Division, Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2013. (HV742.M6 M563 2013)

Minnesota Child Support Program Strategic Plan, 2008-2012. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Human Services, November 2008. (HV742.M6 M573 2008)

Minnesota Department of Human Services Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED): Analysis of Service Delivery Model (ASDM) Project. St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2009. (HV742.M6 M56 2009)

Minnesota Joint Physical Child Custody Presumption Study Group Report. St. Paul: Office of the State Court Administrator, 2009. (KFM5504.6 M562 2009)

Minnesota's New Child Support Law. St. Paul: Minnesota State Bar Association, Continuing Legal Education, 2005. (KFM5504.8.Z9 M56 2005)

Quadrennial Review of Minnesota Child Support Guideline (2010). St. Paul: Child Support Enforcement Division, Minnesota Department of Human Services, 2010. (HV742.M6 M562 2010)

Rogers, Mark. Economic Critique of "Evaluation of the New (2007) Minnesota Child Support Guideline Basic Support Schedule." (KFM5504.8.R64 2006)

Venohr, Jane. Assessing the Impact of the New (2007) Minnesota Child Support Guideline Using Case File Data. Denver, CO: Policy Studies Inc., 2006. (KFM5504.8.V47 2006)

Venohr, Jane. Evaluation of the new (2007) Minnesota Child Support Guideline Basic Support Schedule. Denver, CO: Policy Studies Inc., 2005. (KFM5504.8.V46 2005)

Significant Articles:

Beld, Jo Michelle. "Getting the Order Right: Child Support Guidelines and the Cost of Raising Children." Review of Policy Research, May 2006, p.761-779.

Ellman, Ira Mark and Ellman, Tara O'Toole. "The Theory of Child Support." Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 45, No. 1, Winter, 2008, p. 107-163.

Hopfensperger, Jean. "A New Equation on Child Support: a Revised Minnesota Formula Means Big Changes for Divorced Parents Starting in 2007. Star Tribune, June 13, 2005, p.1A.

Maxim, Allison. "Minnesota's New Child Support Law: An Overview." The Hennepin Lawyer, Vol. 76, No. 5, May, 2007, p.10-13.

Plotnick, Robert D., et. al. "The Impact of Child Support Enforcement Policy on Nonmarital Childbearing." Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol. 26, No. 1, Winter, 2007, p.79-98.

Stassen-Berger, Rachel E. "State's New Child Support Rules Faulted: Activists Point Out Flaws, but Others Say Perfection Elusive." St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 2, 2005, p.A1.


Significant Internet Resources:

Child Support -- Minnesota Department of Human Services' website with information devoted to the topic. See also their Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Calculator - part of the Minnesota Child Support Online secure website for current child support participants.

Child Support Homepage -- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)

Child Support: Publications -- Nonpartisan economic and social policy research from the Urban Institute.

Children's Issues: Links to the World -- Noteworthy Internet resources selected by Library staff.

Legal Topics: Child Support -- This section of the Minnesota Law Library's FAQ suggests additional resources for Minnesotans looking for information on child support.

Minnesota State Court System Website: Forms -- Link goes to their Child Custody/Parenting Time forms updated to meet the January 1, 2007 changes.

Office of Child Support Enforcement -- This division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children & Families, offers resources, publications, a FAQ guide and more on their website.


ADDITIONAL LIBRARY RESOURCES:

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
C36.7 (Child Support)

For additional reports at the Legislative Library, use these MNPALS searches:
Child Support -- Minnesota; Child Support

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155