Establishing Child Support
Raising a child is expensive. Between housing, clothing, and food, costs add up fast—not to mention wellness check-ups, vaccines, and the occasional illness. As children get older, they participate in extracurriculars, school, and sports and then may attend a trade school or college. The cost of raising a child through age 18 can be as high as $250,000. This is not at all a cost that only one parent should bare.
When families separate or change, the cost of raising a child or children is not always addressed. You could find yourself carrying this financial burden on your own or unfairly paying more than your share. We can help you establish child support so you are able to meet your child’s needs.
We work with you and your family to understand your financial needs. Whether you are getting divorced or seeking child support outside marriage, we work as a team to help you gather the necessary documentation to demonstrate your income and your child’s needs.
Minnesota requires parties to submit financial affidavits (sworn statements) regarding their finances. This can be an overwhelming step if taken on alone. Our team will help you identify the correct sources of income and the necessary paperwork to submit to the court, and all with a team approach. We will work closely with you to understand your unique situation. Unlike large and expensive firms, our attorneys are available for clients to address their concerns and explain the complexities of the law so our clients understand what the courts expect.
Beyond gathering paperwork, our team will help you understand the Minnesota model for child support. Minnesota operates on an income shares model—each parent pays their portion of child support depending on the portion of income they bring in for the child. In other words, Minnesota adds Parent A’s income to Parent B’s income and calls that the Parental Income for Child Support, or PICS. If Parent A’s income amounts to 32% of PICS, for example, then Minnesota will expect Parent A to pay 32% of the total child support obligation.
However, Minnesota also understands that your financial obligation (or that of the other parent’s) can be affected by the amount of time you spend with your child or children. This is what Minnesota calls the parenting expense adjustment. Minnesota child support guidelines allow you to use the time you have to increase or decrease the child support you need or pay.
Child support includes more than food, clothing, and housing (basic support). It also includes childcare support, medical support, extracurriculars, and unreimbursed medical and dental expenses. Our team will evaluate your circumstances and advise you about which costs you can address through child support and how to divide those costs through a child support order. This is another area where your PICS portion can determine your obligation or the additional support you need.
We can help you navigate the Minnesota child support guidelines to establish a fair child support order. We can file a petition on your behalf, or answer a petition, or address child support through your divorce proceedings.
Even after your child support payment or obligation has been settled through a court order or agreement, circumstances can change. Either you suffered an income loss or your child or children have greater needs than at the time of the original order. Minnesota law allows you to address these changes through a modification of, or change to, the current order.
Whether you need to pay less or you need more support for your child or children, we will help you evaluate your case to determine if you meet the requirements under the law to justify a modified order. Minnesota law requires the party seeking the modification to prove a substantial change. This threshold can seem more complicated than it appears so our team will work hard to help you prove your case to get a new order better suited to your financial circumstances.
It is also not uncommon for payors to fall behind on payments. Whether you’re the obligor (paying party) or the obligee (receiving party), we will work closely with you to review your prior payments made—or received—to calculate past child support due. We can file a motion for contempt on your behalf to enforce the collection of arrears or help you negotiate with the other party to settle those arrears. Minnesota law includes several options to enforce child support—from driver’s license suspensions, to jail time, to wage garnishment, and even bank levies. We will advise you on your best options so you can get your lawfully ordered support.
Contact us today to discuss your options regarding child support. We can review your income, your financial needs, and the intricacies of your family life. We understand that litigation is not always the first step. We can offer options to settle your child support matter amicably or, if necessary, efficiently through litigation. We can represent you on an individual basis or provide mediation services to help both parents reach an agreement together.