After a child is born, both parents have the legal obligation to provide that child with financial support.

To that end, Minnesota law provides specific guidelines for establishing child support. These guidelines take a variety of factors into account, such as each parent’s income, health insurance costs for the child, and the amount of parenting time enjoyed by each parent. If the parent responsible for paying support stops paying or falls behind, then a motion can be brought to set child support arrears.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between child support arrearages and retroactive child support.

Retroactive child support refers to setting an obligation for past support when there is no order already in existence. For example, if you and the father of the child were never married and never had a child support order set after your separation, you can file a motion requesting retroactive support up to two years before the filing of your request to set support. Conversely, child support arrearages refer to the amount that a parent falls behind when there is already an order in existence. This would apply where, for example, you had a child support order entered three years ago, but the obligor parent never paid anything. Child support arrearage would refer to those three years of missed payments.

Child support arrearages are calculated by taking the amount the obligor parent was supposed to pay and subtracting the amount he or she actually paid. The remaining amount can be set out in a court order. That order will also provide the amount the obligor parent needs to pay toward the arrearages each month. This is usually set as twenty percent of the current support obligation. This amount will be paid in addition to the current support obligation each month. The arrearage amount will also accrue interest at a rate set by Minnesota statute. The obligor parent will continue to have to pay toward the arrearages until they have been paid in full. This applies even if the current support obligation ends. In other words, just because the child is no longer a child does not erase the fact that an obligor parent failed to meet his or her financial obligations in the past. The debt still exists and must be paid.

If you’re dealing with missing or late child support, either receiving or providing it, we can help.


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