The state of Minnesota offers a free online child support calculator that helps parents get an idea of support costs. In this article, we are going to offer some tips for using the calculator.
Steps to Use the Child Support Calculator
(1) Enter Basic Information. The Minnesota Child Support Guidelines allow you to enter each parent’s name. “Parent A” is the parent without primary physical custody or court-ordered parenting time (or 45% or less). If the parties have agreed to an equal parenting time schedule, then “Parent A” is the parent with higher gross monthly income. “Parent B” is the parent with primary physical custody or court-ordered parenting time of 55% or more. If both parents again share equal parenting time, “Parent B” is the parent with the lower income. You must also enter the number of “joint children.” A “joint child” is a child who is a dependent child of both parents in a support proceeding.
(2) Determine each party’s gross monthly income. Gross monthly income is defined as income from any form of periodic payments to an individual, including but not limited to: salaries, wages, commissions, self-employment income, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, annuity payments, military, and navy retirement, pension, and disability payments, spousal maintenance received, social security or veterans benefits provided for a joint child, and potential income. Gross monthly income is income before taxes or deductions, such as employer-sponsored retirement accounts, IRAS, pension plans, flex spending accounts, and/or health savings accounts.
Gross monthly income is typically based on full-time employment (40 hours per week) and does not include overtime unless certain conditions are met. To calculate gross monthly income a party may use the following calculations:
- Hourly rate x 40 hours/ week x 4.33 weeks/month = Gross monthly Income
- Gross weekly income x 4.33 weeks/month = Gross monthly Income
- Gross bi-weekly income (26 pay periods) x 2.67 weeks/month = Gross monthly Income
(3) If Necessary, Determine a Parent’s Potential Income. In general, a parent is presumed to be gainfully employed on a full-time basis of 40 hours of work per week, unless they suffer from a physical or mental incapacity or are incarcerated. If a party is voluntarily unemployed or employed on a less than full-time (40 hour per week) basis, the court has the authority to impute “potential income.” Sometimes the court will not impute potential income if a parent’s unemployment is temporary and will ultimately lead to an increase in income or unemployment represented by a bona fide career change, such as full time college enrollment.
Potential income can be determined by one of the following three methods:
- Probably Earning Level. A parent’s probable earnings based on employment potential, recent work history, and occupational qualifications in light of the prevailing job market.
- Unemployment Compensation. If a parent is receiving unemployment compensation, potential income may be calculated based on the amount of employment compensation received on a monthly basis.
- 150% of Minimum Wage. The court can also impute an unemployed parent with the ability to earn 150% of the current federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which is higher than the Minnesota minimum wage. Based on this minimum wage, a parent could be imputed with the ability to earn $1,884.00 per month.
(4) Non-Joint Children. In the event that either party has a child support obligation for a non-joint child, that parent can receive a deduction from his or her gross monthly income for such child support payments. If the parent has a non-joint child living in his or her home, a parent may receive a deduction from his or her gross monthly income for this child. However, Minnesota Law only allows a maximum of two non-joint children deductions. A “non-joint child” is the legal child of one but not both parents in a support proceeding. A step-child is not considered a non-joint child.
(5) Health and Dental Care Coverage. The calculator also allows parents to enter the amount of dependent health and dental care coverage for the minor child(ren). The parties should enter the actual cost of health and dental care coverage in the column of the parent who provides such coverage. The actual cost of coverage is the dependent portion for the child(ren) alone, not the total cost of family coverage or the total premium paid for the parent and child.
(6) Percentage of Parenting Time. A parent may receive a deduction from their basic child support obligation if they are awarded parenting time with the minor child(ren) under a court order. This is called a parenting expense adjustment. If there is not a court order awarding parenting time, the non-custodial parent will not receive a parenting time deduction. A parenting time expense adjustment is based on the following percentage ranges of parenting time: less than 10%, 10-45%, and 45.1-50%. Generally, parenting time for purposes of calculating a parenting expense adjustment is based on actual overnight parenting time under a court order.
(7) Child Care Costs. Child care costs are the total amount paid for child care of the joint child(ren) for work-related or education-related expenses for the custodial parent. Child care costs should be determined on a monthly basis.
(8) Public Assistance. If the custodial parent receives public assistance in either the form of Child Care Assistance, Medical Assistance, or Minnesota Care through the State of Minnesota, the child support calculator can also determine the amount the non-custodial parent should pay for this public assistance expended for the minor child(ren).
(9) Calculate! Once you have entered all the appropriate information into the child support calculator, you can then click “calculate” to determine the appropriate amount of basic child support, medical support, and child care support in your case. However, the calculations are only as accurate as the information used. The Court has the final authority to order child support. The Court also has the authority to order either an upward or downward deviation from the child support guidelines, if appropriate, and it is in the child(ren)’s best interests.
If you are seeking help or legal representation for the custody of your children or visitation time please contact our knowledgable family law attorneys at 612-294-2200. Minnesota has its own set of laws regarding child support, so it’s important to find an experienced attorney to answer any questions you may have.