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Is child support modification an option?

| May 4, 2021 | Child Custody |

When entering into a custody proceeding or divorce proceeding involving minor children, considerations must be made to ensure the children’s financial needs are met. In Minnesota, both parents have a responsibility to provide for the financial support of their children. However, personal circumstances could change, leaving a parent with reduced income or financial burdens that impact that parent’s ability to contribute to the child’s support as was originally ordered.  In such circumstances, options may exist for a parent to request a child support modification.

Addressing child support modifications

Absent an agreement between the parties, Minnesota law requires any parent seeking a change in child support to file a motion with the court. Doing so involves performing deliberate steps, and the parent might need some assistance with the process.

The court can only modify child support back to the date the motion was served, not when the change occurred so it is important to make sure the paperwork is completed properly. Working with an attorney could reduce the chances of mistakes.

The modification process exists to help all parties, but the focus is on meeting the child’s needs. A parent unable to make a child support payment could end up in arrears, which might lead to numerous legal problems. Parents that don’t pay child support as ordered may face contempt of court charges, wage and asset garnishments, driver’s license and passport suspensions, and other sanctions.

A formal process for altering child support

A formal process exists for child support modification requests. Minnesota law goes into great detail about the rules and requirements associated with modifying child support. The party requesting the modification has the burden prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that makes the existing child support order unreasonable and unfair. Claiming income loss or increased insurance premiums or childcare expenses without evidence won’t meet this burden.

The statute notes that “excess employment” may or may not factor into decisions about child support modifications. Excess employment refers to work performed in addition to the traditional 40-hour work week. Bonuses and other incentive pay may or may not impact child support depending on the amount and consistency of receiving these payments. Determining a self-employed party’s income is not as simple as looking at tax returns because not all expenses that are allowed as deductions for tax purposes qualify as deductions allowed for determining income for child