Both parents are legally obligated to support their children financially, so a court in a divorce can enter an order requiring either or both parents to pay support. Normally, however, support is ordered to be paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent with sole or primary custody. With federal, state, and local laws all coming in to play, child support in Washington County may be handled differently than a case or appeal in Hennepin County. It is important to have an attorney who is experienced in the courts in your area. Jeff Arrigoni is a former Staff Attorney at the Minnesota Court of Appeals with decades of experience as a child support attorney in Washington County handling child support matters in the counties, towns and communities surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul and can competently represent you in your child support matter. Child support is made up of several components, including basic support, health care coverage, and child care support. Initially, the amount of support is determined according to the Minnesota child support guidelines set out in state law. These guidelines are based on the combined gross income of both parents and then allocated based on each parent’s proportionate share. Other factors that go into the formula include the total number of children to be supported, the cost of raising a child at different income levels, and the cost and availability of health care coverage. The actual determination of the guideline amount is arrived at through application of a complicated formula. The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides an on-line calculator to help you estimate what the monthly support amount may be in your case. In order to use the calculator properly, you would need to have the following information:
- Gross monthly income from all sources of each parent
- The number of children living in each parent’s home, not counting children for whom the parent is already ordered to pay child support
- Other existing child support orders for either parent
- Any orders for alimony or spousal maintenance involving either parent
- The amount of benefits paid to a child from Social Security or Veterans Affairs based on a parent’s disability or retirement
- Monthly costs for medical and dental coverage
- Child care costs
- Parenting time amounts
Why It’s Important to Have a Family Law Lawyer Assist You with Your Child Support Case
Calculating the correct amount of child support is about more than just plugging numbers into a statutory formula. The formula is based on knowing each parent’s income from all sources, including wages, worker’s compensation, unemployment or disability benefits and more. If a parent is self-employed or the owner of a business, that parent may have different methods to report income, not all of which may accurately reflect the person’s true income. Similar complications can arise if the person is an independent contractor, a seasonal worker or is paid based on sales and commissions, or if the person is intentionally unemployed, in which case the court will use some figure as the person’s potential income. Having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side will help make sure that you are not being taken advantage of and that your children won’t be short-changed. Many other legal issues can arise in the determination of child support, such as paternity. Also, some child support matters are decided by a child support magistrate in an expedited process with special rules that differ from regular civil court; an attorney who does not regularly handle child support cases will be unfamiliar with the rules in the expedited process. You may also have the need to appeal a child support ruling and would definitely need the help of an experienced family law appellate attorney. Finally, notwithstanding the amount determined by the guidelines, the court has the authority to depart from the statutory amount after considering a number of “deviation factors,” so it is essential that you are represented by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney if seeking or challenging a proposed deviation from the guideline amount.
In 2015 there are also numerous new law proposals concerning the child support calculator and how child support is to be determined before the Minnesota Legislature. The present calculator can lead to wide differences in child support awards based on whether you have six overnights in a 14 day period versus seven overnights. The new proposed changes are designed to eliminate some of the large differences. It will be important to have experienced legal counsel to guide you through the possible new law changes.
Experienced Child Support Lawyer in Washington County
Washington County child support attorney Jeff Arrigoni is an experienced divorce and child custody lawyer who understands all the issues which impact the determination of child support. Call Jeff at (651) 738-1400 for a free initial consultation regarding how child support may be awarded in your divorce case, or for advice and representation in any dissolution or family law matter in Washington, Ramsey, Hennepin, Anoka, Dakota counties and surrounding areas.