Child support

The Child Support Division works to ensure that children have the support they need from both parents by enforcing child support enforcement laws. This advocacy strengthens families and helps to ensure that children obtain the resources that they need.

As legal counsel to the Hennepin County Child Support Agency, the county attorney helps the county:

  • Establish paternity for children whose parents are not married or living together
  • Establish court orders for basic, medical and child care support
  • Enforce payment of court-ordered child support for custodial parents
  • Modify court-ordered child support when a parent’s financial circumstances have substantially changed

The division does not:

  • Establish custody or parenting time
  • Enforce spousal maintenance (alimony)
  • Provide assistance with a legal separation or divorce
  • Act as legal counsel or provide legal advice to any individuals
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Explaining child support

Both mothers and fathers have the same legal obligation to financially support their children. When parents are not living together, they often struggle with how to calculate their share of the financial responsibility of raising their children. Minnesota provides specific laws to calculate child support and determine each parent’s share of that financial responsibility. 

What is a Child Support Order?      

A child support order is a court order that determines monthly obligations of child support, child care expenses, medical and dental insurance, back child support and unreimbursed medical and dental expenses.      

Who can get a Child Support Order?

Usually the parent who has physical custody of the child receives the child support. The person receiving child support can change depending on what the custody arrangements are between the parents.

Learn more about child support

 

Requesting a child support order

There are three ways you can get a Child Support Order. 

  1. File legal papers with the court yourself or with the help of an attorney. 
  2. Ask the Child Support Office in the county where you live for services. 
  3. The county can start a child support action on your behalf without your request if you are receiving public assistance. 

After the court receives all of the motion papers, there may be a hearing where both parents participate and discuss their financial situation. The judicial officer then looks at all of the information and issues a court order. That ruling will order the non-custodial parent to pay child support every month.

Filing a motion with the courts by yourself or with an attorney

You can find the forms you need to file papers in court on line at www.mncourts.gov or you can go to your local court to find out where the nearest self-help desk is to get the forms in person.  If you have an attorney, then they will prepare these papers for you. You must follow all the directions that are provided with the forms.

Ask the county for child support (IV-D) services

You can ask your County’s Child Support Office for its services. Either parent can apply to receive child support services (IV-D services). 

The application fee is $25 unless the applicant receives public assistance. 

You will be assigned a child support officer who will be in charge of your case, that person will gather the necessary information about your case, prepare the paperwork necessary and schedule a hearing if necessary for a judicial officer to address the child support issues. 

Although the county acts on behalf of the person asking for the services, the county does not represent any individuals in the case. The county attorney appearing in the case is there only to represent the county. Either party can still bring their own attorney if they choose. 

More information about state child support services.

Receiving public assistance

There are financial implications and consequences to both custodial and non-custodial parents when the child receives public assistance from the county. 

When a custodial parent receives public assistance on behalf of their child in the form of MFIP (Medical Assistance, Minnesota Care) or Child Care Assistance, the county that is providing the assistance may start a child support action against the non-custodial parent. 

Calculating child support

The court considers many factors when calculating child support, including:

  • The gross income of both parents (this includes any income received by the parents regardless of whether it is through a cash only job or a “pay check” job)
  • The cost of health and insurance for the children
  • How many other children live in each household
  • Whether there is a parenting time court order or agreement
  • Child care costs
  • Whether there is public assistance paid by the county on behalf of the child
  • Whether the child has special needs.

 

Receiving child support

After the court receives all of the motion papers, there may be a hearing where both parents participate and discuss their financial situation. The judicial officer then looks at all of the information and issues a court order.

This court order will order the non-custodial parent (the parent with whom the child does not live) to pay child support every month and to send the payment to the Minnesota Child Support Center and not directly to the other parent. 

If the non-custodial parent of the child is employed by a company that has payroll, then the child support will be automatically taken out of that person’s paycheck. 

If the parent works for a “cash” job, then it is that parent’s responsibility to send the money directly to the Minnesota Child Support Center. The child support may be adjusted every two years to match the cost of living adjustment. 

There are serious consequences for not paying child support and it is important to pay the child support on time. If you are no longer financially able to do so, you must contact your local child support office to get information on how to modify your child support order. The obligation to pay child support does not stop by itself if a non-custodial parent loses a job. The order does not change until there is another order modifying it. 

Either party may request an increase or decrease in the support. 

Enforcement, nonpayment and how to modify the order

There are serious consequences for not paying child support and it is important to pay the child support on time. The obligation to pay child support does not stop or change until there is another order modifying it.     

What happens if child support is not paid?

If the non-custodial parent does not pay the child support obligation, the child support agency takes action to enforce the support order. 

Enforcement methods include:

  • Reporting the obligation to the Credit Bureau
  • Suspending the driver’s license or an occupational license
  • Denying a passport
  • Seizing federal or state tax refunds
  • Denying student grants
  • Seizing money from a parent’s bank account or retirement account
  • Seizing money from unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, lump sum payments and lottery winnings
  • Asking the court to find the noncustodial parent in contempt of court for not making payments, which can result in fines or prison time

If you are no longer financially able pay your child support obligation, read the information below and contact your local child support office for more details on how to modify your child support order.

Modifying the child support order

The only way a child support order will get changed is by going to court and addressing the issue of child support with a Motion to Modify. Either party may request an increase or decrease in the support.

If your financial circumstances have changed and the child support order is too high or too low, you can ask the court to modify the order.  

The law requires that whoever brings a Motion to Modify prove that the current child support is “unreasonable and unfair.” If you are asking for child support to be modified, you must prove to the court that your financial situation has changed. Proof can be in the form of any evidence that a reasonable person can rely on, such as pay stubs, tax returns, receipts showing child care and medical costs.

A child support order will not automatically increase because the non-custodial parent now makes more money than he/she did when the child support was ordered.

Download the Motion to Modify form from District Court.

If you have additional questions, contact your local child support office.

Additional information about child support orders

How will child support be calculated?

The Court will look at many factors when calculating child support, including the following:

  • Gross income of both parents (this includes any income received by the parents regardless of whether it is through a cash only job or a “paycheck” job)
  • Cost of health insurance for the children
  • Number of other children who live in each household
  • Whether there is a parenting time court order or agreement
  • Child care costs
  • Whether there is public assistance paid by the county on behalf of the child  
  • Whether the child has special needs

Learn more about calculating child support.

Can I get child support from the date of the birth of my child?

Minnesota Law only allows for retroactive child support to go back two years prior to the service of a legal action to establish child support. 

For example, if your child is seven years old and the other parent has not given you any money during the child’s entire life; and the legal documents requiring the parents to come to court were given to the noncustodial parent (served) on March 1, 2014, the court can only order the other parent to pay child support going back to March 1, 2012. 

The other parent does not let me see my child. Why do I still have to pay child support?

Unfortunately, lots of parents have problems with custody and parenting time. It is in the best interest of the child that parents communicate about custody issues; however, sometimes parents cannot agree. Child Support issues and the legal obligation to financially support a child, however, are unrelated to whether a parent sees the child or not. The legal obligation to support the child still exists. If you are having problems with custody or parenting time you can file a motion in court to have a judicial officer help to resolve the issues. 

Read additional frequently asked questions about child support in Minnesota.

Questions about your child support case

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office cannot provide legal advice to individuals. The attorneys in court represent the Hennepin County Child Support Agency.

If you have questions about your case, this agency or the district court self help center may be able to help.

Hennepin County Child Support Agency

Hennepin County Child Support Agency provides information and resources to assist parents in all aspects of child support. If you need information about what services are available, how to apply for services, or information about your case, contact the Hennepin County Child Support agency at 612-348-3600 or email at child.support@hennepin.us

Minnesota Court Self Help Center

The online self-help center of the Minnesota Judicial Branch has many services available to assist individuals with obtaining relief that requires a court action such as filing motions for modification of child support. Their self-help center includes information, instructions, forms and many other resources.

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