Laws About Child Support and Visitation in the State of Minnesota
By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.
In Minnesota, the court presumes that it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both of her parents and receive the same amount of financial support she received before her parents divorced. So long as your child spends at least 10 percent of her time with you, courts in Minnesota may lower your child support obligation.
Minnesota courts may award physical or legal custody to either or both parents. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent makes day-to-day decisions for the child. Legal custody refers to which parent makes major decisions for the child, such as issues regarding health care, education or religion. The court may award joint physical or legal custody to both parents, sole legal or physical custody to one parent, or both. The court will determine the custody arrangement based on what is in the best interest of the child and consider any relevant evidence that may suggest one parent is more fit to take care of the child than the other.
Minnesota law refers to visitation as "parenting time." Generally, the parent who does not have physical custody is awarded parenting time if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child. The court may set a specific schedule for when the non-custodial parent will have time with his child. The court is likely to grant parenting time when requested, unless the court finds that the child's emotional or physical health is at risk. However, the court also has the option of ordering supervised visitation and have someone else present during parenting time.
Child Support Overview
In Minnesota, the child is entitled to receive financial support from both parents. The state uses the "income shares formula," meaning the court will consider the income and income potential of both parents. In the state, there is a presumption that both parents are able to work and the court will consider education, training and other evidence that demonstrates the income potential of each parent. The court will look at the combined income of the parents to determine the basic support amount based on the number of children. The court will then consider the percentage each parent contributes to this combined parental income to determine each parent's support obligation. If the support obligation from one parent is higher than the support obligation of the other, he may be ordered to pay the difference to the other parent. After determining the basic support amount, which provides for the basic living and education expenses of the child, the court can adjust the child support obligation to add in medical care and child care expenses.
Support and Visitation
The basic support determination may be adjusted based on parenting time, with the court considering the percentage of time the child spends with each parent. If the child spends between 10 to 45 percent of his time with one parent, that parent's child support obligation may be reduced by 12 percent. However, if the child spends less than 10 percent of his time with the paying parent, the child support obligation will not be adjusted. The court will generally calculate the percentage of time spent with each parent based on the number of overnights per year.
- Minnesota Judicial Branch: Basics on Child Custody & Parenting Time
- Minnesota Judicial Branch: Basics on Child Support
- The Office of the Revisor of Statutes: 518.17 Custody and Support of Children Judgment.
- The Office of the Revisor of Statutes: 518.175 Parenting Time
- The Office of the Revisor of Statutes: 518A.35: Guideline Used in Child Support Determinations.
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."