THE NEW CHILD SUPPORT LAW; FROM “CLIFFS” TO “BUCKETS”

Posted on Tuesday, June 19th, 2018 by Tim Simonson and is filed under Child Support,  Divorce,  Minnesota,  Parents.

Beginning August 1st, a change to the Minnesota child support law takes effect which should come to the relief of many parents who are paying too much child support under the current child support guidelines.

The problem that many of these parents were facing resulted from some flaws under the former ‘Parenting Expense Adjustment’, Minn. Stat. §518A.36.  The Parenting Expense Adjustment was created when the current child support guidelines came into effect in 2007.  The idea behind the Parenting Expense Adjustment was to give parents who pay child support, credit for time spent with their children (and presumably incurring expenses of their own while having the children in their care).

The problem with the Parenting Expense Adjustment came up when parents who spent significant amounts of time with their children, weren’t getting the appropriate credit for the time spent, because the parenting time schedule they were following didn’t give the parent enough time to qualify for a meaningful expense adjustment. 

What this meant was, for example, a parent spending 164 overnights a year with their children, got the same adjustment to their child support amount, as a parent who only spent 40 overnights a year.  This quickly became a sore spot for many parents who felt (justifiably) that it made little sense to give the same reduction in child support to parents spending 1/4 of the time with their children.

The new Parenting Expense Adjustment replaces the “cliffs” of the current law, with a series of smaller “buckets” to better-align the child support amounts more with actual time spent with the child.  Now, a parent spending 164 overnights a year, will see a considerably greater reduction in parenting time than a parent spending 40 overnights a year.

A useful way of thinking about the new Parenting Expense Adjustment (still codified under Minn. Stat. §518A.36) is to think of a series of smaller buckets, whereas the old Parenting Expense Adjustment was just three big buckets:

OLD CHILD SUPPORT LAW

Bucket 1: Parents with less than 10% of a child’s overnights

Bucket 2: Parents with 10 to 45.1% of a child’s overnights (the most common bucket)

Bucket 3: Parents with more than 45.1% of a child’s overnights

NEW CHILD SUPPORT LAW

Now, the Parenting Expense Adjustment is a series of considerably smaller, and therefore better-tailored, buckets, for parenting time schedules to fall into.  The lawmakers have created an algorithm which, thankfully, is available online thanks to the Department of Human Services:

https://childsupportcalculator.dhs.state.mn.us/Calculator.aspx

The algorithm takes into consideration the parenting time schedule and more closely-adjusts the Parenting Expense Adjustment to the parenting time schedule, and should bring some relief to parents who are currently disadvantaged by the ‘cliffs’ under the current law.

To take advantage of the new child support law, please be sure to seek competent legal advice to best determine how this new law may benefit you and your children.

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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.