A few years ago, Minnesota revised its child support guidelines. Most lawyers agree that the changes are for the better, as time spent with the child is more properly taken into account. Yet, the new guidelines can be a bit confusing to the general public (and to non-math-loving lawyers as well), so it’s worthwhile to take a look at them.*
While the guidelines do calculate support based on time spent parenting the child, they do not use a straight up percentage to do so. Instead, a support-paying parent falls into one of three categories, according to the percentage of the time the child is with them: 0-9.9%, 10-45%, 45.1-50%. (A parent who spends more than 50% of time with the child does not pay support.)
The important thing to take away from this is that a very small difference in time spent with the child can make a significant difference in the amount of child support owed.
For example, if a parent spends 164 days of the year with the child, they have the child 44.9% of the time (and fall into the 10-45% category.) If they only spent one more day per year with the child, they would parent 45.2% of the time (and fall into the 45.1-50% category.)
In a situation where the parents make essentially the same income, a parent falling into the 45.1-50% category would pay little to no child support. Thus, that one day per year, can make a huge difference in that parent’s support liability.
If we run the numbers, for demonstrative purposes, of two parents each making $30,000 a year, with one joint child, that one day per year of parenting time makes a difference in over $300 a month in child support payments.We see the imperfection of the system, as one day hardly should cost near $4000. Yet, it is what it is, and no system is perfect. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the numbers and what they may mean for your life.
* The state does try to improve accessibility of the guidelines by taking care of the number crunching for you on their child support calculator website. Anyone can plug numbers into the Child Support Calculator to get estimates of what they (or the other parent) should be required to pay. So, while a lawyer is recommended to advise you and advocate on your behalf, you can at least get an idea of what you’re dealing with by visiting childsupportcalculator.dhs.state.mn.us