Minnesota Considering Child Support Overhaul

Minnesota is one of a dwindling number of states that base child support solely on the income of the non-custodial parent (NCP). Now the Minnesota legislature is considering changing that system to one based on income shares — taking the income of both parents into account. Here’s a story about it from Minnesota Public Radio.

There’s strong consensus in favor of changing the system to one that considers the income of both parents. The controversy revolves around an accompanying proposal to vary child support based on how much time the NCP spends with the child. As you’ve already read here, I have seen the effect of these “Dollars by the Day” plans, and it’s not pretty.

The scenario is this: the NCP, armed with the knowledge that he (and it usually is he) can pay less child support if he gets more visitation time, argues that the children should spend weeknights and extended summer days with him. The CP agrees, and the court sets the child support at a lower rate. Then the bargained-for extra visitation time never happens. The CP is left with the children to look after and lower child support.

I’m confident that this scenario isn’t present in every case in states where child support gets based on time spent, but I know for a fact that it occurs frequently, more frequently than any statistics have indicated. And ultimately, children are the losers.