A child support modification might be easier than you think.
Most parents will agree that is not cheap to raise a child. Having a child in your care can have a huge impact on your monthly budget. In cases where there are divorced parents, or parents who live separately, it therefore makes sense to have the amount of child support that a parent is ordered to pay reduced or offset by the amount of time a child is spending in his or her parent’s care in a given month.
The child support laws in Minnesota were adjusted in 2007 to account the very real expense of having a child in your care, and how that impacts your ability to meet a child support obligation to the other parent of that child. Is a child support modification possible?
Under the child support laws, specifically Minn. Stat. § 518A.36, the amount of time a child spends in a parent’s care directly affects the amount of child support paid for that child. A question that often comes up, though, is how is that ‘amount of time’ determined when seeking a child support modification? Do I get credit for an afternoon, an evening, a day, or an overnight spent with my child? All good questions. Here is the answer.
Overnights only? Not necessarily.
The law considers overnights that your child spends with you as being time that qualifies you for an adjustment to your child support payment. But it does not have to be limited to overnights: if your child is still spending significant time with you, just not overnight, you still may seek an adjustment to your payment. The law allows a court to use either the number of overnights spent with the parent, or an alternative method to determine the amount of parenting time needed to adjust the child support payment a parent is paying.
Courts have been given broad discretion by the legislature to determine what qualifies as ‘significant time’ so as to enable a parent to offset or reduce his/her child support obligation. There is nothing in the law which says that you must have a specific amount of parenting time that you must spend with your child before you can justifiably seek a reduction in your child support amount, but there is some guidance in the law which provides that a court can adjust parenting time when there:
- Are separate days when your child is in your custody, and
- Your child is under your direct care, but does not stay overnight.
What you can do
This law is meaningful because it allows a parent the incentive to exercise their parenting time and not be deterred because of the financial strain of caring for the child and paying support to the other parent. If your children regularly spend significant amounts of time under your care, consider speaking with an attorney about a child support modification.
If you are unsure about how to proceed, or simply have a question, please, contact us today to schedule your free consultation. You can call me at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form.