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Seven Ways a Hutchinson, MN Family Law Attorney Can Bypass the Child Support Guidelines

by | Jun 17, 2019 | Child Support, Family Law, Firm News

Like most other states, Minnesota is an income-share jurisdiction in terms of its child support guidelines. These guidelines, which are presumptively reasonable, take into account the parenting time division, collective parental income, and a few other key factors.

However, as all good Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys know, there is a big difference between “presumptively” reasonable and “absolutely” reasonable. Every family, and every situation, is different. So, a McLeod County judge may deviate from the guidelines, either up or down, if the requesting party produces sufficient evidence on one of the following points.

High-Income Families

According to Minnesota law, the child support amount guidelines do not apply to individuals who earn more than 40 times the federal minimum wage. Admittedly, not very many people earn $290 per hour, which is forty times the $7.25 per hour minimum wage. However, that figure is not an absolute number. The higher the person’s income gets, the more the presumption of reasonableness fades. So, a higher-than-average income, coupled with any evidence of any other factor, is often enough to overcome the presumption.

All Available Financial Resources

Many jobs offer substantial non-cash benefits. For example, self-storage managers often live rent-free onsite and traveling salespeople usually drive company cars. In these cases, the non-cash benefits mean more disposable income, since these individuals do not pay rent or car payments. Therefore, a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney can argue that the payment should be higher or lower, depending on whether the obligee or obligor receives such benefits.

Extraordinary Needs

Some children have special medical, emotional, educational, or other needs. The one-size-fits-all guidelines do not account for these requirements. Note that the child must have extraordinary needs. Most parents would agree that teenagers are more expensive to raise than younger children, but age is not an extraordinary need. Furthermore, there is a difference between the child’s needs and the child’s wants.

Debt Division

Generally, the property division is separate from the child support obligation. But in Minnesota, that’s not always the case. If a parent pays a child-related debt, like a child’s old hospital bill, and certain other conditions are present, a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney can often adjust the monthly child support payment.

Standard of Living During the Marriage

Much like the first factor discussed above, this factor is also income-based. Typically, it applies when a high-earning spouse and a low-earning spouse divorce, and the children stay with the low-earning spouse. Since Minnesota is an income share state, the child support payment must enable the children to live basically the same lifestyle they would have had if their parents remained married. If that outcome requires a child support adjustment, then so be it.

Tax Considerations

Unlike the previous factor, this factor comes up a lot. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons for deviation from the guidelines. The recent Tax Cut and Jobs Act doubled the child tax credit to $2,000 per child. That’s quite a bit of money, especially if there are several children in the family. Arguably, to offset this amount, the residential parent must either file Form 8332 and sign over at least part of the child tax credit or accept a lower monthly payment from the obligor. Of course, that $2,000 tax credit does not necessarily translate to a $2,000 benefit.

Residence in a Foreign Country

In our ever-shrinking world, international families are more and more common. Additionally, a job may take a person overseas. If the children live in a foreign country for more than a year, and that country has a substantially higher or lower cost of living than the United States, a McLeod County judge may revise the child support payments either up or down.

Count on an Experienced Lawyer

Minnesota’s child support guideline amounts are not absolute. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.