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How is Child Support and Custody Determined?

Oct. 16, 2020

According to a Pew Research Center study, around 23 percent of children under 18 years of age in the United States live with single parents and no other adults. In every divorce case, determining child custody and support rights are often a vital concern. If you are considering a divorce or amidst the divorce process, and trying to establish child custody or support arrangements, consulting with a knowledgeable Minnesota family law attorney is crucial for proper guidance.

Attorney Glen A. Norton is committed to providing experienced and comprehensive legal services in divorce, child custody, and support-related matters. Whether you are trying to establish or modify a child custody or support arrangement, The Law Office of Glen A. Norton can offer you the guidance and advocacy you need to understand options. He will fight compassionately to protect your rights and your family's best interest. Attorney Glen A. Norton proudly serves clients throughout Minnetonka, Hennepin County, Plymouth, and Maple Grove, Minnesota.

Child Support

Child support arrangements are often established to ensure that children living with single parents are adequately cared for. In Minnesota, it is the legal obligation of both parents to provide adequate financial support to their children. Generally, the noncustodial parent will be ordered by the court to contribute support payments to the custodial parent. Child support is categorized into the following:

Basic Support

These include payments for the costs for a child's basic needs, such as housing, clothing, food, education, transportation, and other expenses required to provide adequate care for the child. This is intended to be the basics for an average child in an average year, so if you happen to have a hockey player goalie and need to buy all that equipment, that would not be in the child support. That would be an extra the parents need to figure out how to share. In other words, it is not "basic." We help parents negotiate these difficulties if they so they do not have to take it to a judge who does not know and love their child and won't know how much the child does or does not want that goalie position on the team.

Medical Support

These include payments for the cost of the child's health and dental insurance, including the ones provided by the other parent, and uninsured medical and dental expenses. Parents share the cost of the insurance premiums, but they also share in the costs of the co-payments and the uninsured medical, dental, and optical expenses. These costs are split proportionally based upon their incomes, not always equally. If both parents have insurance available, the court has minimum standards for coverage but over that minimum, the parents can choose which they want to use

Child Care Support

These include payments for the cost of child care (daycare) when the other parent goes to school or work. No matter which parent pays for the daycare, both can contribute their proportional share to this expense.

Many times one parent will pay medical support by paying the premium at work and knowing exactly what it costs for only the children's portion of the medical dental and optical insurance. The other parent will pay for daycare or pay basic support. The child support will be calculated in each category and then the amount will be deducted from the largest amount and a net amount will actually be paid from one parent to the other.

Considerations for Child Support

When calculating child support payments, Minnesota courts will consider the following factors:

  • The gross monthly income of each parent

  • The number of children living with each parent

  • Existing spousal maintenance orders for either parent

  • Existing child support orders for either parent

  • The amount of parenting time awarded

  • The monthly cost for the child's medical and dental insurance

  • The total cost of child care

  • The cost of raising a child in the state

Typically, child support is paid by automatic wage withholding through the paying parent’s employer.

Child Custody

Under Minnesota law, there are two types of child custody, including:

Physical Custody

Physical custody can be described as the routine daily care and control of a child. The parent with physical custody will have the right to make decisions regarding the regular day-to-day activities of the child and where he or she lives. Also, the parent will be in charge of bathing, preparing meals, and disciplining the child.

Legal Custody

Legal custody can be described as the ability to make substantial decisions for a child. The parent with legal custody will have the right to make vital decisions concerning how the child will be raised, including decisions about education, religious training, and health care.

Considerations for Child Custody

When determining child custody, Minnesota courts will prioritize protecting the child's welfare and best interest. In doing this, the following factors will be considered:

  • The parents' wishes

  • The reasonable preference of the child, if he or she is of sufficient age

  • The child's primary caretaker

  • The existing relationship, closeness, or attachment between each parent and the child

  • The child's relationship with the parent that significantly influences the child's best interests

  • The ability of the child to adjust to a new school, home, and environment

  • The physical condition and mental health of either parent

  • The ability of either parent to share love, affection, and guidance with the child

  • History of domestic abuse by either parent

  • The willingness of each parent to allow frequent contact with the other parent

Parents may choose an uncontested process whereby they work with a collaborative attorney to draw up mutually agreed-upon support and/or custody agreements that can be presented to the court for approval. This route offers parents more control over the outcome of the decision.

Modifying an Existing Child Support
or Custody Arrangement

Changes in circumstances and schedule may bring about the need to modify an existing child support or custody order. Pursuant to Minn. Stat. Ann. § 518.18 (a), unless both parents agree, any existing custody or parenting time order won't be modified until one year after the establishment of the original arrangement. Regardless, the order may still be modified if:

  • One parent continues to willfully deny or interfere with parenting time

  • The present environment of the child is injurious to his or her emotional or physical health

  • Modifying the current order is essential to protect the child's best interests

Why Hiring a Family
Law Attorney is so Important

Establishing child support or custody arrangements can be emotional and complicated. Agreeing on parental responsibility, child support payments, and determining parenting time with the other parent can make the process even more difficult and stressful. Consulting with a knowledgeable Minnesota child custody attorney is important for detailed guidance.

Attorney Glen A. Norton has devoted his career to handling matters of family law, child custody, and support. As an experienced Minnesota collaborative divorce attorney, he will offer you the comprehensive guidance and advocacy you need to establish or modify child custody and support arrangements. He will work diligently with all parties involved to establish a fair parenting agreement while protecting your future and family's best interests.

Contact The Law Office of Glen A. Norton today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment with a knowledgeable Minnesota child support attorney. Attorney Glen A. Norton will fight compassionately to protect your rights and help you navigate key decisions. He is proud to serve clients throughout Minnetonka, Hennepin County, Plymouth, and Maple Grove, Minnesota.