When parents with children get divorced, the child support that is ordered by the court for one of the parents to pay is based off the number of children at that time and the monthly income of the parent paying the support. Sometimes, though, the parent paying child support loses his or her job or is laid off from work, greatly reducing the amount of income coming in on a monthly basis. In this case, the parent can try to have his child support payments reduced, or modified.
Having child support payments reduced is not a simple process, and not every parent will be successful. In general, a parent paying child support must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances that now make the existing child support order unreasonable or unfair. The court is going to determine whether or not the current order is unfair or unreasonable by applying the following test. The court will take the child support guidelines used to calculate child support in Minnesota and apply the new financial situation to the guidelines. If the new child support obligation is at least 20% and at least $75 lower than the current order, the current order may be considered unreasonable or unfair. Child support can also be modified such that child support will increase if a party files for modification and a parent’s net income has increased so that the support obligation has increased at least 20% and at least $75.
If you are a parent who has suffered a decrease in income and is looking to reduce child support payments, you must file a motion to do so in court. To do this, you may either hire an attorney or try to represent yourself, which is called pro se representation. There are a number of documents that you must file with the court, including a fee for filing. The Minnesota court website, http://www.mncourts.gov/default.aspx?page=513&item=60&itemType=packetDetails, provides the forms needed to file for the motion to modify child support. Instructions are also provided regarding filing out the forms. You will need to file the following:
- Notice of Motion and Motion to Modify Child Support
- Affidavit in Support of Motion to Modify
- Affidavit of Service
- Confidential Information Form
- Sealed Financial Source Documents
The most important aspect of reducing basic child support payments is to argue and prove that because of a change in circumstances, the initial child support order is unfair and unreasonable. Some reduction cases are simple; however, others can also be complex. Determining whether the previous child support order has become unfair or unreasonable can be a complicated calculation. Although it is possible to represent yourself in such a matter, it may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney ahead of time to discuss your legal rights and options and how to proceed in seeking the modification.