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Can Parents Agree on Child Support Payment Amounts?

Many unmarried or divorcing parents rely on a tool known as a parenting agreement to decide how they will split custody, visitation and decision-making concerning their children. These agreements often also control who will pay for certain costs such as summer camp or educational expenses. However, when parents are creating the plan, they are often surprised to find out that child support is not typically part of these agreements.

In Minnesota, child support is typically decided by a judge according to a formula. This formula takes into account factors such as:

  • Parental income. The court will examine each parent’s income and assets to determine need and ability to pay.
  • Other children. Support orders may be affected when a parent is raising or paying support for additional children.
  • Medical insurance. The cost of medical and dental insurance attributable to the children is also calculated as part of the formula.
  • The cost of work and education-related child care is calculated as part of the formula.

A judge can deviate from this formula based on the financial circumstances of the parties or unique parenting time issues, but deviations from the formula are not common.

While a judge always has the power to make this determination, some parents do try to work out their own arrangement. In cases where parents agree on child support amounts and include them in the parenting plan, the parents will also have to convince the judge that there is a good reason not to use the state’s formula. In many cases, parents accept a judge’s order but later seek a modification if circumstances or financial situations change.

If you need help understanding how child support payments are calculated, speak with an experienced Minnesota child support attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. today.

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