Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Child support revision passes - Minnesota

Child support revision passes

This is a much more comprehensive article regarding the legislation in Minnesota...


For the first time, both parents' incomes would be considered when determining child support payments. Currently only the income of the noncustodial parent, typically the father, is considered.

Support levels would be based on gross income, not net income, which has allowed parents to hide money in 401(k) plans and other shelters. Meanwhile, the state would create a website with a simple child support calculator for parents to use.

The child support formula hasn't been changed in more than 20 years. During legislative testimony, fathers argued that the current rules don't make adjustments for the financial status of their ex-wives or consider the cost of raising a new family after a divorce.

Custodial mothers, meanwhile, have told lawmakers that the actual cost of raising children is far greater than current guidelines recognize. Even if the child spends time with the father, custodial parents still must pay for housing, groceries and the children's other basic needs, they argue.

Considering the income of the custodial parents when deciding payments would put Minnesota in line with 37 other states, said Sen. Linda Berglin, DFL-Minneapolis, who worked with Neuville on key sections of the bill.

A custodial parent with one child would get less support, in most cases, he said. A custodial parent with two or more children would get more support -- until the income of both parents is equal. After that, the support would be lower than today.

The bill also would:

• Reduce support payments for noncustodial parents who have additional children after the divorce or separation.

• Not allow support payments to drive parents into poverty.

• Create a "parental expense adjustment." If parenting time is 10 to 45 percent for the noncustodial parent, there would be a 12 percent reduction of child support. If parenting time is equal between both parents the expenses for the children would be equally shared. And if the adjusted gross incomes of both parents were also equal, then no support would be paid.

Father's rights groups have said the bill doesn't go far enough in equalizing the playing field between both parents.

A companion bill, with some policy differences, is likely to reach the House floor this week.

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