Child Support Modification

Child support can be modified by either party when there has been a change in circumstances that makes your current order unreasonable or unfair.  A change in circumstances is typically a significant change in income, a change in parenting time, or a change in the cost of child care or medical insurance.  

Under Minnesota law, child support is determined by considering both parents’ gross incomes, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, and the cost of child care and medical and dental support for the child.

There are three areas of support that the court considers: basic support, child care support, and medical support.

Basic support is determined by taking the gross monthly income of each parent. The parties’ gross monthly incomes are then combined to determine the “Parental Income for Child Support”, or PICS. The percentage of each parent’s gross income contributes to the total PICS amount. The court will then multiply each percentage times the total combined child support obligation to determine each parent’s share of that obligation. After this is determined, a Parenting Expense Adjustment is applied. This is a credit for the amount of time the noncustodial parent spends with the child.  If there are childcare costs or medical support costs, the court will divide these costs between the parents. This is typically split according to the PICS. 

In Minnesota, child support is typically ordered based on guidelines established by the legislature.  To calculate what guideline child support would be in your case you can use the child-support calculator put out by the department of human services:  Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Calculator.  Child support cannot be modified retroactively, with the exception of child care support.  For that reason, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as circumstances change so that you can preserve your request to modify support.

Child support can be modified either by mediation, utilizing the collaborative process, or by involving the court.  There are at least three ways to proceed using the court process in Minnesota.  First, if the county is providing child support withholding services for you it is sometimes possible for them to initiate a child support modification action.  Second, child support can be modified in a separate court process called the Child Support Expedited Process.  This is a court process that only handles child support issues.  Third, child support can be modified in district court via a modification motion.  In all of these options you can either have an attorney represent you or you can represent yourself.  It is helpful to talk with an attorney at the outset to assess which option is best for you.