What is the obligation to pay child support based on?

Burnsville, MN Family Law Attorney, Merlyn Meinerts talks about why one should pay child support.

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Phone: (952) 736-1843


Under Minnesota law, child support is calculated on both parties’ gross income before taxes are deducted. And gross income can sometimes be easily determined in the case of a W-2 wage earner. For someone who’s self-employed or engaged on a commission basis that has wildly fluctuating income, it could be more of a challenge. There are also those cases where someone is unemployed or underemployed, not working at all or not working on a fulltime basis. And in those situations, the court can establish potential income for purposes of child support. Those numbers are then entered in a calculator, which is an online resource available to anyone, and child support can be calculated. 

The more important ingredient then has to do with the amount of parenting time awarded to each party. Under current law, there are three different categories of parenting time that then relate to what’s known as a parenting expense adjustment. Other expenses, such as the cost of health and dental insurance for the children and the cost of work related child care would also be entered into the child support calculator to render a result. So it then takes three forms: basic support, which is a specific amount paid per month; medical support, which is an amount paid toward the cost of the children’s health and dental insurance; and then work related child care support. 

There’s a fourth category that’s not contemplated in the calculator but frequently included, and that relates to the division of extracurricular and other extraordinary expenses. This day and age, when signup fee for soccer or football or music lessons gets to be pretty significant, it’s not unusual for those to be contractually agreed upon between the parties and divided between them on some basis.