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Minnesota child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Minnesota child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Minnesota child support determined?

In Minnesota , the courts may order either parent to provide child support. Marital fault will not be considered. The factors the courts will consider are:

  • the financial resources of the child and the custodial parents
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not failed
  • the health and educational needs of the child
  • the amount of public aid received by the child
  • any tax consequences of the support payments
  • any debt the parents have

The court is obligated to require that all child support payments be sent directly to the public agency responsible for child support enforcement if:

  • the parent entitled to the child support payment is receiving or has applied for public assistance
  • the parent has applied for child support and maintenance collection services

In addition, if either parent is receiving public assistance or has applied for public assistance, he or she must notify the public authority of all proceedings for divorce, separation, determination of parentage or the custody of a child. Such notice must contain the full name of the parties, social security numbers and birth dates.  Once the notice is received, the court will set child support for an amount in compliance with Minnesota Child Support Guidelines.

There are specific Minnesota Child Support Guidelines designed to be in the best interests of the child that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed unless both parents agree to an amount other than that calculated by the guidelines, or the courts decide the guidelines are unjust. The court must comply with Minnesota Child Support Guidelines by multiplying the obligor parent's net income by the percentage indicated in the following chart:

Net Monthly Income

Number of children

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

$551 - $600

16%

19%

22%

25%

28%

30%

32%

$601 - $650

17%

21%

24%

27%

29%

32%

34%

$651 - $700

18%

22%

25%

28%

31%

34%

36%

$701 - $750

19%

23%

27%

30%

33%

36%

38%

$751 - $800

20%

24%

28%

31%

35%

38%

40%

$801 - $850

21%

25%

29%

33%

36%

40%

42%

$851 - $900

22%

27%

31%

34%

38%

41%

44%

$901 - $950

23%

28%

32%

36%

40%

43%

46%

$951 - $1,000

24%

29%

34%

38%

41%

45%

48%

$1,001 - $5,000

25%

30%

35%

39%

43%

47%

50%

When calculating monthly child support, net monthly income is determined as total monthly income minus:

  • federal income tax
  • state income tax
  • social security
  • reasonable pension deduction
  • union dues
  • cost of dependent health insurance coverage
  • cost of individual or group health/hospitalization or an amount of actual medical expenses

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age or the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. A child will also automatically be ineligible for child support if that child marries, or is removed from disability status by a court order.

Minnesota's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these custody decisions. In Minnesota , joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and the following considerations:

  • the child’s cultural background
  • the physical and mental health of all involved
  • the ability and desire of each parent to provide love, affection and guidance to the child
  • the ability and desire of the parents to continue raising the child in any particular culture, religion or creed
  • the child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment the desire to maintain this
  • the wishes of the parents
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the relationship the child has with each significant family member
  • the conduct, as it relates to the child, of the proposed guardian
  • the stability of the home environment each parent could offer
  • the need for stability and continuity in the child’s life
  • the effect of any of domestic abuse on the child
  • the child’s primary care taker and any other relevant factors

If both parents request joint custody, then the courts presume joint custody is the best option for the child, unless there is any history of abuse. If there is history of abuse, joint custody is not considered to be the best option. Joint custody will be based on the above factors, plus:

  • the ability of the parents to cooperate in the rearing of the children
  • dispute resolution methods used in any major decision in the rearing of a child
  • whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child's upbringing
  • whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parents

Minnesota's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement.

How permanent are the provisions for Minnesota child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Minnesota has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents. In Minnesota , if the parents request joint custody, then the courts assume it is in the best interests of the child, unless there is a history of abuse.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. 

How Minnesota determines child visitation:

Generally, parents are free to visit with their children at all times that are mutually agreed to by both parents. However, when parents cannot agree, the standard visitation schedule accepted most everywhere in the nation is:

  • every other weekend
  • four to six (4-6) weeks during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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