Many parents, especially obligors, think that once child support is ordered, the child support amount will stay the same until the minor child turns 18 (or 20, if still in high school).  However, this is not always the case. Parents should regularly review their financial circumstances to determine if a modification of the child support obligation is necessary for their child(ren).  A parent may be able to either increase or decrease a child support obligation, depending on the circumstances.  Parents may modify their child support either by reaching an agreement with the other party, or by filing a motion to modify child support with the court for the judge to decide the issue.

In order for a court to grant a motion to modify child support, the parent filing the motion needs to show that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances” since the last order that renders the terms of the last order unreasonable and unfair (Minn. Stat. § 518A.39).

What is a “Substantial Change in Circumstance”?

A “substantial change in circumstance” is defined as any of the following:

  1. A substantial increase or decrease in gross income of either parent
  2. Substantial increase or decrease in the need of either parent or the minor children
  3. Receipt of public assistance
  4. Change in available health care coverage for the minor children
  5. Increase or decrease in day care costs for the minor children
  6. The emancipation of a child

Note: If the obligor or the obligee becomes responsible for the support of an additional non-joint child from another marriage or relationship, this does not allow for a modification of child support.

Presumptive Modification of Child Support

Even if you meet one of the factors for a substantial change in circumstances listed above, the court may still deny your modification motion.  However, if you meet one of the “presumptive” factors listed below, your child support will be modified by the court:

  1. Based on the parties’ current incomes, the Minnesota Child Support Calculator results in a child support order that is at least 20% and at least $75 higher or lower than the court’s last child support order.
  2. The medical support provisions of the last order are not enforceable by the public authority or obligee
  3. The health care coverage under the last court order is no longer available to the parent that is court ordered to provide the health care coverage for the child
  4. The existing child support order is in the form of percentages and not a specific dollar amount
  5. The gross income of either parent has decreased by at least 20% through no fault or choice of the party.

If one of these scenarios applies to a parent and the other parent will not agree to modify the terms of a child support order, that parent must file a motion with the court to get his or her child support obligation changed.  Otherwise, the child support will continue as ordered.  For example, if an obligor loses his or her job, that party should immediately file a motion to modify child support to lower their obligation to prevent an accrual of arrearages for child support.

Minneapolis Child Support Attorneys

Our family law experience is your best asset in resolving your Minnesota child support issues. If you want to modify a child support order, the Minnesota family law attorneys at Heimerl & Lammers are available to help you. Call our Minneapolis or Saint Paul offices at (612) 294-2200 for a free and friendly consultation. You can also schedule your consultation using the contact form on this site.