How Will My Child Support Be Awarded During an Uncontested Divorce?
A growing number of court cases are settled before they ever have to go to trial. Family law is no exception, and many divorces are now going uncontested.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce means that the spouses have come together and agreed on every issue in their divorce, ranging from the division of marital credit card debt to a final parenting schedule for the parties’ children. If you file for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will not have to appear in court or have a trial to settle your marital disputes.
If the parties have children, their final agreement will need to spell out the children’s custody and parenting time arrangements. Also, there will need to be a child support order set.
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How is Child Support Awarded in Minnesota?
Child support in Minnesota is calculated based on a complex set of factors, including the number of children, the income of both parents, the cost of medical expenses, and child care expenses. When the parties submit their uncontested divorce paperwork to the court, the judge will need to see that child support has been calculated.
If the parents seek to reserve or reduce the amount that would otherwise be required under the guidelines, the parents will need to provide a good reason. This is because child support is designed for the benefit of the child. The law does not allow parties to waive child support entirely because child support is a non-bargainable right of children. Parents sometimes agree to “reserve” child support, meaning that no child support will be paid at the time. However, a reservation of child support is modifiable.
Dividing Childcare Expenses
Daycare expenses, medical insurance for the children, extracurricular activities, and other costs all add up. Child support is meant to cover the child’s essentials, such as clothing and housing.
Daycare expenses and medical insurance should be divided between the parties in shares that relate to their respective incomes, i.e., if one party makes more, they should be responsible for a higher percentage of those expenses. Parties can agree to divide extracurricular costs if they so desire, but there is no statutory requirement that they do so.
Downward Deviation of Child Support
There are situations where a court may agree to accept a reservation or reduction (“downward deviation”) in child support. One of these situations may be if the income or resources of the parties are drastically different. For example, it may not make much sense to have a parent who makes minimum wage pay support to a custodial parent who has vast economic resources because they are the beneficiary of a large trust fund.
Conversely, if the child support amount is so minimal according to the guidelines as to be $30 or less, the court will likely allow the parents to reserve the support obligation. Even if the parents do agree to reserve support, for the time being, parents should be aware that nothing is stopping either parent from returning to court in the future to modify the obligation.