Family Law 101: Calculation of Child Support

Minnesota uses an income shares module to determine the appropriate amount of child support  each party shall pay for a child.  Child Support is comprised of 3 parts: basic support, medical/dental support, and child care. The amount of child support an obligor may be ordered to pay to the other parent depends on the combined gross income of both parents and the amount of court-ordered parenting time the obligor has with the child. The non-custodial parent, or parent with less parenting time, will pay the custodial parent child support. In the event that the parties have joint physical custody and an equal access parenting time schedule, then the higher income parent pays the lower income parent an adjusted amount of child support, taking into account their shared parenting time agreement. Rather than a 12% parenting time expense adjustment, a 50% parenting time expense adjustment is applied. If parenting time is less than 10%, no parenting time expense adjustment is applied.

To determine support, the gross monthly income of each parent is added together to create PICS (Parental Income for determining Child Support). Because only gross income is used, no adjustments are needed for taxes, social security, pretax retirement contributions, contributions to insurance, or other voluntary contributions that may reduce gross income. This ensures that the full benefit of both parties’ incomes is used, regardless of any elective deductions either party may make. Each parent’s proportional share of PICS is then used to determine their percentage of PICS. In Minnesota Statute § 518A.35, subd. 2, a table sets the amount of support that is appropriate, depending on combined PICS and the number of children eligible for support.

For example, Parent A has gross monthly income of $5,000 per month. Parent B has a gross monthly income of $3,750 per month. The parties have two children. Parent A has court-ordered parenting time every other weekend, Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, and an overnight stay every Tuesday evening. The children are with Parent B at all other times. Parent A has parenting time in excess of 10% but less than 45.1% of the time, so a 12% parenting time expense adjustment is appropriate. Parent A also maintains medical and dental insurance for the children on a benefits plan available through his employer, at a rate of $250 month for the children’s only portion of medical insurance and $100 month for the children’s only portion of dental insurance. Parent B incurs work-related child care for the parties’ youngest child of $80 per month.

Child Support is calculated as follows:



This entry is part of a four part series on Family Law by Attorney Lori A. McLaughlin.