Minneapolis, Minnesota family law attorney Marc Johannsen shares how the Minnesota legislature is seeking to reconcile differences in child support payments.
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Well, the legislature started off with a very ambitious package of changes that were working its way through the legislature, and one of them was to change what was called the cliff in the child support law, which currently the existing statute provides for a reduction in the amount of child support that a parent would receive based upon the amount of time the other parent parents the children. So, for instance, if a noncustodial parent has a child for less than ten percent of the time they would get not credit. If they had between 10 and 45 percent there would be a reduction in the amount of child support that they would have to pay, but not a large reduction. From 45.1 percent and up, then it would be a significant reduction based upon the amount of time. And what the legislation was attempting to do was to better define the break points in that 10 to 45 percent parenting time range, because it seems that 10 percent of parenting time is not really comparable to a 45 percent amount of time and it seemed that that reduction was too small when you’re getting up to that 45 percent one and maybe a little bit too large at the 10 percent, so they were trying to smooth it out. The legislature was not able to reach consensus on that, so they did however appoint a task force to look into it and come up with recommendations for the next legislative session. That would be one area.
Another area was, they did revise and clarify how you calculate which spouse would receive the dependency and tax exemptions for the children. Under federal law, generally the custodial parent would receive those rights unless a domestic court, such as a Minnesota District Court or the Circuit Court in Wisconsin would make a decision on who of the parents would be able to exercise it. Sometimes the court will say they will alternate it, sometimes they’ll award it to one parent or the other, and that’s typically done to make sure that whoever is awarded that deduction can actually use it and maximize the benefit. As you may or may not know, those dependency deductions are tied to a person’s income and your ability to exercise it tends to phase out as that person’s taxable income increases.
So, what the legislature did in Minnesota this session, and that did actually pass and will go into effect on October, or August 1st, was clarify and create the criteria that the court must use. And I believe it will make it a much easier solution for parents and have more predictability for counsel to better counsel clients with regard to that issue.
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