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Obtaining and enforcing child support in Minnesota

Today's American families are very different in composition from those of 40 or more years ago. According to a Pew Research Center, today less than half or roughly 46 percent of U.S. kids live with "two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage." With the U.S. divorce rate continuing to hover around 50 percent and a record number of children, an estimated 41 percent, being born outside of marriage; increasingly the word family is a relative term to many Americans.

Regardless of the marital or relationship status of a child's parents, every child is legally entitled to benefit from the financial support of both parents. U.S. child support laws help ensure that, regardless of child custody arrangements, both parents provide financial assistance to aid in providing a child with necessities including food, housing, clothing and medical and dental care. Additionally child support can also help pay for expenses related to daycare and education costs.

Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent. In cases where parents were never married, a father must establish legal paternity prior to any child support actions. In Minnesota, child support is determined by statute and amounts are calculated using what's known as an Income Shares Formula which looks at factors including the incomes of both parents, parenting time and the number of children being supported.

Once the amount of support has been determined and an official order entered by the court, the paying parent must do his or her best to comply with the order and make payments in full and on time. In cases where a paying parent is behind on child support, an attorney may be able to assist a custodial parent in recovering back payments. Additionally, in cases where the financial situation of a paying parent changes due to a job loss, an attorney can assist in filing a motion to modify the child support amount.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Child Support," Feb. 25, 2015

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