The Uncontested Divorce – Part 3 (Child Support)

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A divorce case involving minor children is less likely to be uncontested that a case involving no minor children.  As mentioned in an earlier post, as it pertains to the issue of child support, a case cannot be uncontested unless (1) there are no minor children; or (2) the parties are in agreement that no child support shall be paid.

In Minnesota, child support is based upon statutory guidelines.  The parties can agree (or the court can decide) to adopt the guideline amount, or to deviate upwards or downwards.  One might say that the issue of child support could be uncontested by simply adopting the statutory guideline amount of support.  The problem with that hypothesis is that the calculation of guideline support requires the input of the parents’ respective incomes.  If one of the parties is unemployed, it may be necessary to impute a reasonable level of income.  (But maybe not.)  If someone is self-employed, there is no simple answer to “What is your gross monthly income?”  Someone may have bonus income, or work on commission.

Even if the parties agree on an amount of support, there are complicating factors, such as how support gets modified if circumstances change, whether the paying parent needs also to contribute to other expenses of the children (and which expenses, and how much), and what happens when the oldest child turns eighteen.

The point is, unless both parties have sufficient income, and neither party needs to receive child support, the case cannot be considered truly uncontested.

There is also an additional concern if the parties do agree that no child support shall be paid.  That is the parents’ ability to be flexible and fair regarding how the children’s expenses get paid on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or monthly basis.  This will not necessarily prevent the parties from proceeding with their divorce case on an uncontested basis.  But later on, after the case is done, if they do not operate with principles of flexibility and fairness, it is only a matter of time before they have a contested dispute on their hands.

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