Regardless of the overall direction of the U.S. economy, the cost of goods seems to always trend upward. This means that, over time, child support payment buying power is reduced. While child support orders often allow for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) every other year, our Minneapolis child support lawyers warn that the adjustments are not always automatic. If you receive child support, or if you need to contest a COLA, you need to take specific action.
The Rules Behind Minnesota Child Support COLAs
According to Section 518.75 of the 2015 Minnesota Statutes, COLAs can occur every two years, but only when an active child support order provides for these adjustments. The law contains many other provisions, including the following:
- When child support payments are made to a public authority, the adjustments become effective on May 1st of the applicable year, while payments made directly to the recipient of the child support payments (known as the obligee) can begin at any time during the year.
- The obligee must send notice to the public authority or the parent who makes the payments (known as the obligor) at least 20 days prior to the adjustment’s effective date.
- The obligor has the right to contest the adjustment by filing a motion with the court administrator and notifying the obligee before the effective date. After a court hearing, judges review the case to determine the obligor’s financial circumstances. For those who lack sufficient funds to support an increase, the COLA may be denied.
A key point to understand is that the public authority typically serves COLA increase notification to obligors on the appropriate date to meet the May 1st deadline. As such, these increases are virtually automatic unless obligors file motions to contest. When obligees receive support payments directly from obligors, however, they have to initiate the required actions without the benefit of any form of notification. In other words, directly-paid obligees need to mark their calendars to begin the process that can increase the payments received to support the children.
Insufficient Timely Action Can Affect Anyone in the Family
Parents seeking COLAs can potentially receive automatic increases when child support payments are channeled through a public authority, but those who accept payment directly from the other parent can lose out if they fail to make adjustment requests. Just as important, parents who make these payments can suffer possible financial hardship when they do not contest the increases and present compelling arguments within a relatively narrow timeframe.
An experienced Minnesota child support attorney makes sure parents are fully apprised of all responsibilities when they establish their child support requirements during the divorce process. To help ensure that all issues pertaining to the children are properly addressed, call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form.