Full Payment for Child Support is Not So Easily Shirked in Minnesota
The answer is, don’t bet on it. The law in Minnesota is that a child support award can be determined based on your potential income (as opposed to actual income) if the court thinks that you are “voluntarily underemployed”.1
So if you plan to cut back your hours so that you have less income to show at a child support hearing, be careful, as chances are the court will find that you have chosen to limit your income, and, may then decide to ‘impute’ (add) income to you based on your earnings history. This means that in spite of you showing a meager pay check, the court can overlook that and assume you can pay more child support than your pay stub shows! The court can actually base on what the Judge thinks you should be earning; not what you are actually earning!
But, Can the Court Force Me to Work?
Not exactly. A court in Minnesota cannot force you to work, but a court can make your decision not to work a very costly one. Here’s how: By ‘adding’ income (which you aren’t earning) to your column (note: the law requires a court to calculate support based on both parents’ incomes) and then figuring out child support, the court can set a child support amount for you that is out-of-reach. So your options quickly become limited to:
- falling behind on child support and risking the consequences (including contempt of court, driver’s license suspension, jail!); or
- working more so that you can afford to pay the child support amount.
By How Much Can the Court “Inflate” My Income?
Here are some things a court cannot do to your income:
- In most cases, it cannot pretend that you can work more than forty (40) hours per week. 2
- It cannot punish you for attending school or changing careers with the hope of getting a better job.3
- It cannot ignore a disability or incarceration that limits your earnings (unless you are incarcerated for not paying child support!).3
- It cannot overlook factors beyond your control such as industry-wide layoffs or a severely-distressed economy.4
- It cannot punish you for staying at home to care for a minor child or disabled child and your work experience is either outdated or limited5; and
- Pretend you have income when you are receiving public cash grants.6
But, unless you have an excuse like one of these listed above, your decision to work less and earn less will likely result the court adding or ‘imputing’ income to you when calculating the child support obligation for your children. If you are stressed about the court potentially adding income to your paycheck that isn’t there, or, if you are dealing with a parent who might be working less than he or she can, please contact us and we can help figure it out.
You can call us at 651-647-0087 or schedule a consultation by clicking the button below.