Child support is an award determined by the Court in a dissolution, legal separation, custody, or paternity proceeding, and provides for the care, support, and education of the minor child/children.
Child support in Minnesota is divided into three sections: 1) basic support; 2) medical support; and 3) child care support. The following definitions are provided in Minnesota Statute:
Basic Support: “a child’s housing, food, clothing, transportation, and education costs, and other expenses relating to the child’s care. Basic support does not include monetary contributions for a child’s child care expenses and medical and dental expenses.” Minn. Stat. § 518A.26, Subd. 4.
- The definition for basic support is fairly broad in terms of what falls under this category. Essentially, anything purchased for the minor children’s benefit so long as it fits the categories above can be included in this section. This may include rent payments, groceries, diapers, etc.
Medical Support: “health care coverage for a joint child by carrying health care coverage for the joint child or by contributing to the cost of health care coverage, public coverage, unreimbursed medical expenses, and uninsured medical expenses of the joint child.” Minn. Stat. § 518A.41, Subd. 1 (d).
- The definition for medical support is rather simple: the monthly cost of health care coverage solely for the joint child/children and/or dental care coverage solely for the joint child/children. A parent’s contribution to these costs is based upon their percentage of the total combined income of the parties (also known as “PICS” or “PICS percentages”).
Child Care Support: “The amount of work-related or education-related child care costs required by this subdivision to be divided between the Father and Mother is the total amount received by the child care provider from the parents and any public agency for the joint child or children.” Minn. Stat. § 518A.40, Subd. 1.
- The definition for child care support means the amount paid to a child care provider for any joint child or children. Again, a parent’s contribution to these costs is based upon the percentage of the total combined income of the parties.
All of these amounts are determined by running a child support guideline scenario through the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Calculator. Once all of the information is included in the calculator (including gross incomes of both parties, the number of joint children, the number of non-joint children (children from another relationship), any spousal maintenance either party is ordered to pay, costs for health and dental care coverage for the minor children, child care costs for the minor children, and the number of parenting time overnights each parent has with each child), the Calculator will generate specific support amounts for the above categories, and it will include a “total” support obligation for each party. Typically, when working with an attorney, they should run several different scenarios through this Calculator to show you what options are available. It is important to understand that the calculator only provides for the guidelines and there may be a basis to deviate upward or downward from the guidelines – yet, another reason why you should consult with an attorney before making any agreements or taking any formal positions in a family law proceeding.
Contrary to what some parties believe, child support in Minnesota does not cover extracurricular activities, such as sports, etc. However, parties can agree, as a separate provision within their Court Order, to allocate costs for extracurricular activities. Additionally, child support does not cover college contributions by either parent. Again, parties can agree to this as a separate provision, but it is not something that can be Ordered by the Court independently. In other words, both of these provisions need to be negotiated for and agreed to by both parties.
While child support is based on a number of factors, it can be negotiated either upward or down. Additionally, the method in which support is to be paid can also be agreed to between the parties (whether the County should collect support or whether the parties pay each other directly).
With years of experience in all areas and aspects of family law, we can help you determine which child support arrangement is best for you and your child/children. Please call us today at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form to set up your free consultation.