What is Child Support And What Are My Rights And Responsibilities

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
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“Child Support” is a culmination of a number of things:

  • A child’s food; housing; clothing and daily care; these are also known as Basic Support.
  • The other aspect of child support is day care or child care costs for taking care of your child when you are unavailable, e.g. at work. This is Child Care Support
  • And the cost of health and dental insurance for your child is known as Medical Support.

These three items, Basic Support, Child Care Support and Medical Support, combined, make up Minnesota’s definition of Child Support.

You can get a child support order as part of divorce proceeding, child custody case, Order For Protection (OFP) hearing, paternity or even legal separation proceeding.

How is Child Support Amount Determined?

In January 2007, the state of Minnesota started using a new guideline for setting child support called income shares. Under the income shares guidelines, child support is determined by using the gross income (pre-tax income) of both the parents. These incomes, also known as Parental Income for Child Support (PICS), are added together and plugged into the MN child support calculator. The calculator is a formula developed by MN lawmakers that automatically calculates how much child support a parent is responsible for based on their share of the combined income.

After the parents’ incomes are combined, it is then divided based on the percentage of each parent’s income that made up the total. What this means is that if you make significantly more money than the other parent, for example, if your income is 70% of the PICS, after it is compared to a spending chart for your income level, you may be ordered to contribute more toward child support than the other parent. In calculating your child support obligation, the calculator allows you to plug in other child support you are ordered to pay or are currently paying and gives you credit for other children living with you before determining the amount you have to pay for child support. 

For more information about the MN Child Support Guidelines Calculator, visit:

Custodial and Non Custodial Parent

The time spent with your child/children also affects the amount you can be ordered to pay for child support. A custodial parent is the one who spends the majority of the time with the child/children. The non-custodial parent is the one who has less time with the children. For example, if you spend less than 10% of the time with your child/children, your child support does not change; however, if you spend between 10% to 45% of the time with your child/children; your support is reduced by 12%. If you spend over 45.1% of the time with your child/children and you have the same or similar income with the other parent, you do not pay any child support. Keep in mind, if you make more than the other parent, even if you spend over 45.1% of the time with your child/children, you will still have to pay some child support.

What about Child Care and Medical Support?

Typically, the parents are responsible for their children’s medical expenses and child care costs. The contribution of each parent will also be determined based on their income. If you are a non-custodial parent and your income is below the poverty guideline, that is if you make less than $10,830 for a family of 1, or $14,570 for a family of 2, you will pay a minimum amount for child support. The minimum amount that can be ordered is $50 per month for 1 or 2 children, $75 per month for 3 or 4 children and $100 per month for 5 or more children.

If you have questions about child support or any other issues in this article, utilize the Family Court Self-Help centers for your county or contact an experienced family law attorney. Consult a family lawyer to determine what your rights or obligations are with respect to child support or for any of the issues raised in this article.

For more on the poverty guidelines, visit:

Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for an individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an attorney experienced in family law.

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About Obi Chukwu

Paschal Nwokocha Law Offices, LLC, is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and specializes in immigration and family law. It is one of the preeminent, immigrant-focused law firms in the country with a particular emphasis on solutions for families. Attorney Chukwu has extensive experience in family law matters uses those skills to help clients with family law issues, including divorce/dissolutions, child custody, and parenting time, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), paternity, ante-nuptial/post-nuptial agreements, asset distribution, post-divorce modifications, domestic abuse issues, OFPs etc. Attorney Chukwu believes that family is at the core of our communities. In that respect his practice of family law emphasizes respect for the family, protection for children and fair & balanced treatment of individuals. Without sacrificing zealous client advocacy Mr. Chukwu strive to find solutions that benefit clients from the start with limited expense. We are a community of immigrants and are stronger because of it. Paschal Nwokocha Law Offices believes our immigration laws should work for us not against us and endeavors to find ways to make immigration laws most effective for our clients.

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