Big changes are coming to how child support obligations are calculated effective August 1, 2018. Before discussing the changes, it is important to understand the components of a monthly child support obligation. There are three different components to a monthly child support obligation: basic child support, medical support and childcare support. Basic child support, as the name suggests, is for the basic needs of a child. Medical support provides for the child’s premiums for health and dental insurance and unreimbursed or uninsured medical expenses. Finally, childcare support is for work or education-related childcare costs. The new law does not affect medical or childcare support and only affects how basic support is calculated.
Basic child support is calculated based on the monthly gross income of each parent and the amount of parenting time that each parent has with the child pursuant to a court order. This will not change. However, current Minnesota child support laws provide that a person paying child support (“obligor”) falls into one of three ranges of parenting time in terms of receiving a discount on child support: less than 10%, 10 – 45%, or 45.1% – 50%. This means that an obligor receives the same discount from basic support if they have 10% parenting time or if they have 45% parenting time. This was seen as unfair because presumably an obligor with more parenting time is spending more money on the child’s basic needs, which is the rationale for the discount on basic support for parenting time. And an obligor could potentially eliminate child support all together by going from 45% parenting time to 45.1% parenting time, only a difference of 0.1%, creating a child support “cliff.” Not surprisingly, this has led to quite a bit of litigation regarding parenting time that was at the edge of this “cliff.”
The new child support law attempts to address the issues identified above and eliminates the three ranges. It requires that child support be calculated based on the exact number of overnights that each parent will have on a yearly basis and each additional overnight provides an additional discount in child support. The hope is that this will be fairer and will reduce litigation around the child support “cliff” because it does not require the obligor to fall into three very broad categories, creating more of a “slope.” It remains to be seen if the new law will be fairer and reduce conflict, but it certainly will impact child support calculations quite a bit and the new calculation is more complex than current law. This is why it is important to speak with an attorney experienced with child support issues, who will be knowledgeable about the new law and its implications. To discuss your legal questions with an attorney experienced with child support issues, contact Tentinger Law Firm at 952-953-3330 or use our quick contact form.