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Calculating child support using the 'income shares' method

The state of Minnesota, like every other state in the nation, recognizes that it is both parents' responsibility to provide for their child financially. If a child's parents are divorced or are no longer in a relationship with each other, this generally means that the noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent.

Child support in Minnesota is broken down into three parts. First, basic support is meant to provide for the child's everyday expenses, such as clothing, food, housing and education. Gifts to the child do not constitute child support. Next, medical support involves providing the child with health insurance and dental insurance, as well as uninsured expenses. Finally, child care support includes costs associated with child care when the parents are working or when the parents are in school.

Minnesota uses the "income shares" method for calculating how much support a parent owes. The income shares method takes into account the gross income of each parent, how many children there are and what the costs are of raising a child depending on the parents' levels of income. Under the income shares method, the law presumes that both parents can work to earn an income. If a parent is not working, his or her "potential income" may be factored into the amount of support.

When it comes to calculating basic support, one consideration the court will keep in mind is how much visitation the paying parent has with the child. If the paying parent has parenting time with his or her child between 10 to 45 percent of the time, then there is a 12 percent reduction in the amount of support that parent will be obligated to pay. However, if the paying parent only has 10 percent or less in parenting time, the court will not reduce the amount of support that the parent must pay. This percentage includes overnight visits the child has with the parent.

Courts use the income shares method of calculating child support to reach conclusions that are uniformly fair. If a parent believes that he or she is either not receiving enough support or is paying too much support, he or she may want to seek legal advice to understand how child support is calculated and whether a modification is possible.

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