Minnesota Child sustain: How Much Do I Have to Pay?
If you find yourself in a position where you will be either paying or receiving child sustain, this article will provide the basics of the child sustain laws in the state of Minnesota. When talking with a Minnesota divorce or family law lawyer, the lawyer may frequently refer to our current laws as the “new child sustain laws,” as opposed to the old child sustain laws. Well, the new sustain laws really are not all that new. They came into effect in January 2007. So, we are truly four and half years into the “new child sustain laws.”
Briefly, the old sustain laws, which were in effect from the early 1980s until 2007, basically provided for the sustain obligor (the parent paying sustain), to pay sustain based on a percentage of that parent’s net income. consequently, the individual would pay 25% of his or her net income for one child, 30% for two children, 35% for three children, and so on. Again, this was based on net income which was determined after state and federal taxes were deducted, in addition to the cost of health insurance, a reasonable pension amount and union dues.
As of January 2007, the State of Minnesota has been operating under the “new child sustain laws.” sustain is now based on both parties’ incomes and is based on gross income as opposed to net income. The amount of sustain to be paid is computed by adding both parties’ gross incomes together to come up with a “combined parental income for calculating sustain.” This parental income is then divided between the parents based on their proportionate proportion of the parents’ combined income. In the Minnesota family law community we frequently refer to this as each parent’s “PICS” income. The total amount of sustain to be paid based on the parents’ combined parental income, may be alternation and increased each year and can be currently found in a chart in Minnesota Statute 518 A.35 Subd. 2.
The current sustain laws also provide for a “parenting time adjustment.” A sustain obligor gets a 12% reduction in his or her sustain if he or she has parenting time with the children in excess of 10% of the time. There is a presumption in the law that a parent has parenting time at the minimum 10% of the time. The next parenting time adjustment is at 45% of the time (i.e. a parent must have parenting time with the children at the minimum 45% of the time to get a substantial child-sustain reduction). This parenting time adjustment at 45% of the time, seems to be the proverbial “battleground” in Court. What I average by this, is if one parent has parenting time of approximately 40% of the time, that parent often times will fight for an additional 5% of the time, because it can make a difference of several hundred dollars and already over a thousand dollars every month in sustain.
In family law practice, compromises are sometimes reached when one parent has parenting time between 40% and 45% of the time. In these situations, the parties may “deviate” from the sustain guidelines, so that there is not such a drastic impact if the one parent does not quite have parenting time in excess of 45% of the time. In such situations, it is important, and necessary to fully explain to the Court why they are deviating from the sustain guidelines and why such a deviation is in the children’s best interests.
The current Minnesota child sustain laws also include provisions for the allocation to the parents of medical insurance premiums for the children and out-of-pocket costs for the children. The cost for the children’s medical insurance premium may be built directly into the sustain obligor’s monthly sustain payment. The out-of-pocket costs are allocated based on each parents respective PICS income (as explained above). Also, daycare costs may be included within the sustain computations and included within the sustain obligor’s monthly child sustain payment. Typically, the sustain obligor will pay something less than what his or her PICS income otherwise is, to explain the benefits of the daycare credit that the child sustain obligee (the parent receiving child sustain) may otherwise be entitled to. The contribution towards the children’s health insurance premium and contribution towards the children’s daycare costs are in addition to the basic sustain obligation.
Child sustain can be comparatively simple to compute if both parents are W-2 employees and work 40 hour weeks. sustain computations can become more complicate when one or both of the parents are self-employed or if one or both of the parents are unemployed or underemployed. It is worth noting, that the Minnesota child sustain laws provide a presumption that each parent is capable of working a 40 hour week for child sustain purposes. If a parent does not provide adequate documentation of his or her income, the Courts may impute “possible income” to that parent based on 150% of the federal minimum wage.
There are many other intricacies of the Minnesota child sustain laws that I will not delve into in this article. However, as you may have noticed, it is more difficult as a Minnesota divorce lawyer to inform a possible divorce client or child sustain client of his or her likely sustain obligation under the current sustain laws. Prior to 2007, it was much easier for a Minnesota lawyer to inform a client over the telephone of an approximate expected sustain obligation, based on a percentage of that parent’s net income.
One useful tool for parents who are disinctive about their possible sustain obligation, is the Minnesota child sustain calculator which can be found online (http://childsupportcalculator.dhs.state.mn.us/). However the amount of sustain determined by the Minnesota child sustain calculator is only as good as the numbers that are put into the calculator. It is important to seek advice from a Minnesota child sustain attorney if faced with a sustain proceeding whether by a Minnesota divorce proceeding or simply a separate sustain matter.