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Child Support and Potential Income
Minnesota potential income for child support, lawyers, attorneys

What happens in the new child support calculation if one parent is not working?  Based on Minnesota statutes, a court may look at whether a parent is unemployed or underemployed. That is true even if that parent is staying home to care for children.  However, there is a balancing test to determine whether the underemployment or unemployment is legitimate. This is codified in Minnesota Statutes Section 518A.32 relating to potential income which provides in pertinent part, as follows: 

518A.32 POTENTIAL INCOME.

If a parent is voluntarily unemployed, underemployed, or employed
on a less than full-time basis, or there is no direct evidence of any income, child support must be calculated based on a determination of potential income. For purposes of this determination, it is rebuttably presumed that a parent can be gainfully employed on a full-time basis. As used in this section, "full time" means 40 hours of work in a week except in those industries, trades, or professions in which most employers, due to custom, practice, or agreement, use a normal work week of more or less than 40 hours in a week.

Determination of potential income must be made according to one of three methods, as appropriate:

  1. the parent's probable earnings level based on employment potential, recent work history, and occupational qualifications in light of prevailing job opportunities and earnings levels in the community;
  2. if a parent is receiving unemployment compensation or workers' compensation, that parent's income may be calculated using the actual amount of the unemployment compensation or workers' compensation benefit received; or
  3. the amount of income a parent could earn working full time at 150 percent of the current federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

A parent is not considered voluntarily unemployed or underemployed upon a showing by the parent that:

  1. unemployment or underemployment is temporary and will ultimately lead to an increase in income; or
  2. the unemployment or underemployment represents a bona fide career change that outweighs the adverse effect of that parent's diminished income on the child.

If the parent of a joint child is a recipient of a temporary assistance
to a needy family (TANF) cash grant, no potential income is to be imputed to that parent.

If a parent stays at home to care for a child who is subject to the child support order, the court may consider the following factors when determining whether the parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed:

  1. the parties' parenting and child care arrangements before the child support action;
  2. the stay-at-home parent's employment history, recency of employment, earnings, and the availability of jobs within the community for an individual with the parent's qualifications;
  3. the relationship between the employment-related expenses, including, but not limited to, child care and transportation costs required for the parent to be employed, and the income the stay-at-home parent could receive from available jobs within the community for an individual
    with the parent's qualifications;
  4. the child's age and health, including whether the child is physically or mentally disabled; and
  5. the availability of child care providers.

This subdivision does not apply if the parent stays at home only to care for other nonjoint children.

A self-employed parent is not considered to be voluntarily
unemployed or underemployed if that parent can show that the parent's net self-employment income is lower because of economic conditions that are directly related to the source or sources
of that parent's income.

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