In Minnesota, the child support amount the court orders a person to to pay is a function of several economic factors. These factors include both parent’s gross monthly income, the costs of medical and dental insurance for your joint child(ren), any non-joint children living in either home, the cost of child care, and the amount of time that the joint child(ren) spends with each parent. A judge or child support magistrate enters these factors into the Minnesota Child Support Calculator to determine a child support obligation. Although plugging numbers into the Minnesota Child Support Calculator may be simple, there is often a great deal of disagreement about what numbers are put into the calculation. One number that causes a lot of determining your gross monthly income may be more complicated.
For purposes of determining a child support obligation, a parent is generally only required to work one full time job of forty (40) hours per week. However, many people today work over forty hours a week through a combination of job and are anxious to know how this will affect their child support obligation. According to Minnesota statute 518A.29 sub (b), gross monthly income does not include compensation received by a party for work or employment in excess of a 40 hour work week, provided that:
1.Child support is ordered in an amount at least equal to the guideline amount based on gross income not excluded under this clause; and,
2.The party demonstrates and the court finds that:
i.The excess employment began after filing of the petition;
ii.The excess employment is an increase in the work schedule or hours worked over the two years prior to the filing of the petition;
iii.It is voluntary;
iv.The overtime is paid on an hourly basis; and,
v.The parent did not change their pay structure for child support purposes.
So what does mean? It means that if you work overtime, the overtime pay will be counted as part of your gross income unless you already pay an amount of child support at least equal to the amount specified in the guidelines and the overtime is new, and it is an increase in hours compared to the last two years, and the overtime you are working is voluntary, and you are paid by the hour, and you are not working overtime to avoid paying child support.
Who may have to pay child support based on their overtime income? Anyone who receives a salary, anyone who has in the past regularly received overtime pay, anyone who, as a condition of their job, has to work overtime, and anyone who worked overtime before they filed their case. Who may not have to pay child support based on their overtime income? Employees who are given a seasonal overtime option and employees who occasionally get the opportunity to work overtime.
You may be thinking, “It seems like the more hours you work the more you pay in child support. I could work less hours and pay less support.” In Minnesota, this is a bad idea. Courts are quick to accuse individuals voluntarily underemployment. According to Minnesota statute 518A.32, if a judge determined that you are voluntarily underemployed or unemployed, the court will impute income to you. This means that even if you are not working at all, or you are not working full time, you may be ordered to pay child support based on the gross monthly income a judge believes you are capable of earning. The amount of imputed income ascribed to you depends on your income potential. The court can determine your income potential by considering your work experience, the job market in your field and in your city, and your past income. For example, a court would consider your schooling, your job history, the ability of workers in your field to get hired in the city where you live, how much workers in your field make, and what you made at your last job. If the court has no information regarding your abilities or your potential income, a gross monthly income of 100% of the federal or state minimum wage at 30 hours a week will be used to calculate your child support obligation.
Determining a fair gross monthly income is an important part of any child support case. Wilson Law Group is prepared to help you determine the amount of income on which you should be paying child support. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.