The final divorce decree generally sets child support obligations based on the income of each parent and percentage of parenting time. On the surface, this concept seems simple and straightforward. However, the Minnesota Statutes now include the concept of a Parenting Expense Adjustment that might make child support decisions fairer, but that also make the calculations more complicated. Our Minneapolis child support attorneys regularly help clients ensure that the final settlement is a true representation of each parent’s financial obligation for the children.
How the Parenting Expense Adjustment Works
Until the statutes changed, the concept behind child support was that a divorce settlement typically assigns no monetary financial obligations to the parent with primary physical custody of the children. Of course, few people would actually expect that parent to avoid paying substantially for the children’s financial needs, but no specific financial obligation was etched in stone.
In addition to introducing new methods for determining parental income based on reduced standards, the statutes now base the financial responsibilities of both parents based on percentage of parenting time, as follows:
- Parents with less than 10 percent parenting time receive no adjustment.
- Parents with 10 to 45 percent parenting time receive a 12 percent adjustment.
- Parents with 45.1 to 50 percent parenting time are assumed to share parenting time equally.
To illustrate how this works, a parent in the middle category with a $100 obligation would now benefit from a 12 percent reduction, reducing the obligation to $88. In the case of equal parenting time, the obligation is now based solely on income. If both incomes are equal, neither parent must pay child support, unless the court finds to the contrary. When incomes are not equal, the parent with higher earnings pays child support based on pre-set calculations.
Many Other Factors Can Apply to Child Support Obligations
Every situation is unique and many factors can serve to complicate these calculations — particularly when deciding the basic child support obligation. This decision naturally includes considerations for any children belonging to only one parent. Additionally, salaries that vary based on seasonal or other considerations need to be adjusted accordingly, not to mention wage increases or reductions.
During the stress and confusion surrounding the divorce process, parents may fail to consider all factors that apply to their child support obligations. This is why it is so important to retain a child support lawyer who knows how to ask the right questions to obtain a fair assessment for each client. To help ensure your child support settlement will consider all unique factors pertaining to your circumstances, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.