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.
of potential income must be made according to one of three methods, as
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;
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
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
underemployment is temporary and will ultimately lead to an increase in
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
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:
parenting and child care arrangements before the child support action;
parent's employment history, recency of employment, earnings, and the
availability of jobs within the community for an individual with the
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;
the child's age
and health, including whether the child is physically or mentally disabled;
of child care providers.
This subdivision does
not apply if the parent stays at home only to care for other nonjoint children.
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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