Changes in Child Support Over Time
Madeleine Alberts, Children, Youth and Family Program Leader; M. Kathleen Mangum, Sandra Syverson, and Barbara Radke, Extension Educators; and Minnell Tralle, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency
Child support usually changes automatically to reflect the cost of living. But the court also can modify original child support orders under certain circumstances.
Most judges include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) clause in divorce decrees to eliminate the need for revisiting the order every time the Consumer Price Index goes up. In Minnesota, basic support orders require a COLA every two years.
Besides cost-of-living increases, child support can be adjusted to reflect specific circumstances.
The court may subsequently change the initial child support order if:
- There is a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s gross income.
- There is a substantial increase or decrease in the needs of a parent or child.
- One of the parents or child starts receiving public assistance.
- There is a change in a parent’s living expenses for a reason outside the parent’s control, i.e., not through choice.
- The child begins to incur extraordinary medical expenses.
- There is a change in the availability or cost of healthcare coverage.
- There are changes in work-related or education-related child care expenses.
- The child is granted or becomes emancipated before the age of majority.
Unmarried Parents and Child Support
Unmarried mothers seeking child support must first take steps to legally establish the paternity of the child. The father may submit to a paternity test voluntarily or by court order following a lawsuit by the mother. Once paternity is established, the court will issue a child support order in a manner similar to that in a divorce.
For more information on these issues in Minnesota, see Paternity and Unmarried Parent Resources.
For specific information on the rights of unmarried fathers in Minnesota, see the Central Minnesota Legal Services publication, Unmarried Fathers’ Guide to Paternity, Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support in Minnesota.
Interstate Moves and Child SupportWhen a non-custodial parent moves to another state, a custodial parent may have to rely on the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to implement or ensure payment of child support. This federal act provides the mechanisms by which a support order issued in one state can be transferred to, and enforced in, another state. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Uniform Interstate Family Support Act 1996.
Minnesota Department of Human Services. (2014). Child support.
Minnesota Department of Human Services. (2014). Child support: Cost-of-living adjustments.
Minnesota Legislature. (2014). Minnesota’s child support laws: An overview.
Understanding Spousal Maintenance — Spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony, is money paid to support an ex-spouse (or partner). Explore the situations for which this type of support is typically granted.
A Guide to Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Cost-of-Living Adjustments — Office on the Economic Status of Women — This guide helps parents obtain a cost-of-living adjustment to a child support or spousal support maintenance order in Minnesota.
Minnesota Child Support Online — Minnesota Department of Human Services — Register online to access general case information, financial history, and other information about the child support program.