Many couples question whether they can deviate from the Minnesota child support guidelines by agreement. While the court ultimately has discretion to do so, it does not happen very often. In fact, we’ve had orders kicked back because our stipulated support calculation was off by as little as $5.00 per month. Courts consider child support the “child’s money,” and, as a result, rarely afford parents the ability to unilaterally negotiate a different figure.

At the same time, however, we have successfully persuaded the courts to deviate. In considering a deviation from the child support guidelines, the court will examine factors such as:

  • Earnings, income and resources of the parties;
  • Financial needs and resources of the child;
  • Physical and emotional needs of the child;
  • Educational needs of the child;
  • Standard of living the child would enjoy in the absence of divorce;
  • Tax implications associated with the child’s dependency exemption;
  • Debts of the parties; and
  • Receipt of public assistance.

If the court deems appropriate, it may order or permit a child support obligation greater than, or less than, the Minnesota child support support guidelines. Still, the odds are against.