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Post-decree child support modifications are sometimes necessary

The Minnesota family courts consider a variety of different factors when setting a reasonable amount of child support in either a divorce or a separation of unmarried parents. The income of both parents, the special needs of any children in the family, the cost of health care and childcare and even how the courts split up your assets, such as your family home, can influence how much child support they order.

Regardless of whether you are the person paying child support or receiving it, the simple fact is that life has a way of being unpredictable. Things change suddenly that can drastically impact the amount of child support one parent has an obligation to pay or the other needs to receive.

If your family circumstances have changed since the final divorce decree or the final order of child support for unmarried parents, it may become necessary to request a modification from the Minnesota family courts.

Informal agreements are dangerous for everyone

Going through the courts to adjust your child support may seem unnecessary and even contentious. If you are on decent terms with your ex, you might think you can just make an arrangement with them directly to reduce your obligations or increase how much they pay you each month.

Unfortunately, while those informal arrangements can be a testament to your willingness to work together, they are impossible for the courts to enforce. If you need more support and only have an oral agreement from your ex, you won't be able to ask for enforcement if they don't fulfill that promise to you.

If you need to reduce how much support you pay and you don't seek a modification, your ex could request enforcement actions, even if you pay how much you agreed on previously. Formalizing the change with the modification protects everyone, including the children who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the support.

When will Minnesota consider a modification?

The change in child support will have to be somewhat substantial in order for the Minnesota family courts to approve a modification hearing. If you can present preliminary documentation that shows a drastic increase in expenses or change in income for either parent, the courts will likely grant a request for a modification hearing. The standard for a substantial difference between what someone currently pays and what they should pay has to be at least a 20% change or $75 per support payment.

What are some common reasons that people seek child support modifications?

All kinds of personal and family circumstances can result in a need to adjust child support. Some of the more common examples include:

  • loss of a job
  • injury or illness affecting one parent
  • injury or illness affecting a child
  • increased medical costs
  • increased child care expenses
  • changes in income

The parent paying support could potentially ask to reduce how much they pay if the other parent starts making substantially more money. They could also ask to pay less support if they start making less money. A parent receiving support can ask for more child support if they have increased expenses or if their ex has suddenly started making substantially more money. Modifications help ensure that child support reflects the current situation for the family.

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