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Modification of child support orders in Minnesota

Life changes. When your divorce decree or child support order was finalized, you may have thought you were done asking for things from the court. Now, you realize that the orders no longer work. Perhaps you have lost your job or your cost of living has increased substantially.

Generally, a party can modify Minnesota child support when there has been a "substantial change in circumstances." Substantial change may include:

  • Either parent's gross income substantially increased or decreased
  • The needs of one of the parents or the child have changed substantially
  • The cost of living has changed substantially
  • The child's health has changed to require large medical expenses, or health care costs have changed substantially
  • Child care costs have substantially decreased or increased
  • One parent now receives public assistance
  • The child has emancipated

Many people modify child support orders because their income has changed. Generally, the court will determine that there has been a substantial change in circumstances when applying the guidelines to the parents' current gross income would result in a change of at least 20 percent and at least $75 higher or lower each month.

Some examples of when a change in circumstance is not substantial include:

  • A change in child support law
  • The birth of a nonjoint child
  • Remarriage (the court will not see the new spouse's income as a substantial change in circumstances)

If you believe you have experienced a substantial change in circumstances and would like to modify child support, speak with a family law attorney familiar with Minnesota child support law.

Source: Minnesota House of Representatives, "Minnesota's Child Support Laws," Lynn Aves, Sept. 2011.

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