Parenting Time and Child Support

Parenting Time and Child Support

Factors to Consider

When it comes to determining child support, the Court considers many factors.  The two predominant factors are incomes of the parties and parenting time which is the amount of time each of the parents spends with the child(ren). Courts in Minnesota rely heavily on the Child Support Guidelines Calculator, which includes several variables, Incomes and parenting time are important factors to consider.  It’s possible for anyone to go on the internet and find this calculator to use: (click here to use the MN Child Support calculator).  Just be careful when you come up with your child support calculation number.  There are many variables that can change the numbers a Court would use for input into the calculator.

Many parents paying child support are missing the boat on getting credit based on the amount of time spent with their children. The law acknowledges that where a child support parent is spending more time with their child(ren), so too are they spending more of their own money on their child(ren) directly, and the other parent is paying less.

Minnesota Child Support – Past ‘Cliffs’ and Current Laws

The Minnesota Child Support Guidelines have changed.  They’ve moved away from what used to be referred to as ‘cliffs’ in child support adjustment.  The past child support broke down child support adjustments by three very specific brackets of parenting time for the non-custodial parent (individual generally with less than one-half overnights).  The parenting time breaks were percentage of overnights as follows: less than 10%, 10-45%, and 45.1-50%.  Unfortunately this often created harsh, unequal results.

Look at the cliffs below:

If two different non-custodial parents had greatly different amounts of overnights, say 11% and 44%, they would each receive the same child support break even though parent ‘y’ would obviously have much greater expenses.

Now, more fairness has been brought into the picture, taking more true account of the actual costs for those individuals having more overnights with the children.  Today, the child support adjustment is a more gradual curve.

The new law also has had another benefit.  There tends to be a little less intense fight over parenting time, particularly in those parents pushing hard to hit the 45.1% overnights.  Now, some will be satisfied to hit a lower one, such as 40%, knowing they will still get financial consideration for the significant amount of time with the child(ren).

Court Order Often Required to Consider Time Spent with Children

Now, get ready for this kicker.  The Court will generally disregard how much time is spent with the children unless there is an actual order in place which specifies how much parenting time someone has. Often, in cases where parties were not married, a county agency or a parent initiates a child support action.  However, in these instances the parenting time is not addressed unless someone requests.  It’s common for child support to be set, often at the initiative of the County child support offices, but there is no determination as parenting time, or even, for that matter, custody.  That’s left for one of the parents to raise.

If you are paying child support, but have no set parenting time, you may want to get the legal process going.  Besides the child support impact, there are much greater benefits, particularly having a set parenting time schedule in place that is your time with the children, which can’t be easily manipulated by the other parent.

Call our office today (218) 722-5809 or contact us to learn more.


Chris Dahlberg—Attorney
Dahlberg Law Office, P.A.

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