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Child Support

Although child support in Minnesota is calculated based on an income shares approach and the use of child support guidelines, often extenuating circumstances exist that may make a guideline award of child support unreasonable or unfair. There also exists in Minnesota a rebuttable presumption that a parent can be gainfully employed on a full-time basis. If a parent is unemployed, potential income may be imputed unless that parent can show that he/she is not voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. In determining potential income, situations when one parent is self employed or has been a stay-at-home parent require a more creative approach to the matter.

Sometimes, after parties have been divorced it is appropriate to have a child support obligation modified due to the increase or decrease of a parent’s income.  Whether a parent’s increase or decrease in income warrants a modification depends on whether the parent requesting modification can demonstrate two things. First the requesting parent must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Once that is established, before modification may be granted, the requesting parent must also show that the change has rendered the existing order unreasonable and unfair. 

Notable Cases

  1. Rose v. Rose

    765 N.W. 2d 142 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009) (holding that a party who demonstrates entitlement to the presumption of a substantial change in circumstances under Minn. Stat. § 518.39, subd. 2(b)(1), must also show that the presumed change has rendered the existing order unreasonable and unfair before a modification may be granted).

  2. Sonnek v. Sonnek

    No. A08-0953, March 31, 2009, Unpublished and Not Reported in N.W.2d, 2009 WL 818752 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009) (concluding that when determining whether the presumption that an award is unreasonable and unfair has been rebutted, the district court may review any evidence in the record, including evidence presented by the moving party).

  3. Bormann v. Bormann

    644 N.W.2d 478 (Minn. Ct. App. 2002) review denied (Minn. Aug. 5, 2003) (holding the party who moves to modify an existing child-support order has the burden of demonstrating both a substantial change in circumstances and the unfairness and unreasonableness of the order because of the change).