Under Minnesota child support law, the person paying child support (the obligor) and the person receiving child support (the obligee) can claim a “deduction” on their child support worksheet calculation for the care of “non-joint children”

So what the heck does that mean?

In every child support case, the Minnesota court, magistrate, or child support referee will have to make a determination based on the income of the parties, the costs of medical/dental care, parenting exercised by the parties, and whether the parties are currently supporting non-joint children.  The court can, in its discretion, use other factors.  However, the factors described above are typical.

Definition of “Non-Joint Children” under Minnesota Law

“Non-joint children” are defined under Minnesota Statute 518A.26 (subd. 12) as”

“Nonjoint child” means the legal child of one, but not both of the parents in the support proceeding. Nonjoint child does not include stepchildren.

As we can see, a “non-joint child” is the legal (biological or adopted) child of one but not both of the parents in the child support proceeding.  The law also tells us that non-joint children do not include stepchildren.

You can’t claim care of step children as a “deduction” in a Minnesota child support calculation

I have a client right now who is dealing with this situation.  I personally find it very frustrating that someone who re-marries and tries to start a new life with someone who has children is not allowed to deduct the care that he or she provides for those step children.  Yet, that is the law in Minnesota.

The law favors biological children.  It always has.  I am not saying that is right or wrong, but I am saying that is a fact.

What does this mean for child support calculations?

As I said, when making decisions about child support, the judge, referee, or magistrate is obligated to follow the clear guidelines set forth by the Minnesota legislature.  The guidelines are all contained in the online Minnesota child support calculator.  I invite you to try your hand at the calculator to see what I mean.

In sum, we know that every obligor can claim a deduction on the child support calculator for “non-joint children” whom he or she support.  However, those children cannot be step children for purposes of making a child support calculation.

At the end of the day, child support order and awards are about playing with the numbers and knowing what you can and cannot claim.  Child support lawyers in Minnesota will explain the meaning of many of these factors to you.  If you are faced with a situation where is a judge is going to be establishing child support for the first time, or if you are faced with a motion for modification of child support, you should speak with a lawyer to make sure the judge gets the law and the facts right.

– This post was written by Joseph M. Flanders, a Minnesota child support attorney.  You can contact him at 612.360.4721.