When it comes to determining child support, Minnesota’s child support laws require that parents work to support their children; accordingly, courts will assume parents can work full-time to financially support their children.
According to Minnesota child support law, “full-time” work means 40 hours of work in a week. Parents who work less than 40 hours a week can be considered ‘voluntarily unemployed or underemployed’, and in some cases, are forced to pay more child support than their paychecks can sustain.
There are, however, exceptions to the 40 hour work week, for industries, trades or professions in which most employers, use a normal work week of more or less than 40 hours. Minn. Stat. §518A.32 subd. 1. As many working parents know, a 40 hour work week is not always the norm.
Courts recognize that some jobs demand less than a 40 hour work week. Recently, the Minnesota Court of Appeals looked at a Child Support Magistrate’s decision to determine a child support obligation arising from a divorce, where one parent was working 32 hours per week.
In that case, the Mother was employed as a Certified Medical Assistant, working 32 hours a week, as she had for the past 3 years. Mother had not reduced her hours because of the litigation, was unable to increase her hours (other than on a sporadic basis during staff shortages), and the Magistrate found that her employer considered Mother to be a ‘full-time’ employee.
Father argued that Mother was ‘voluntarily underemployed’ and asked the Child Support Magistrate to look at Bureau of Labor and Statistics data to show how many hours per week a certified medical assistant should be working. The Child Support Magistrate disagreed, looked at evidence from Mother’s employer, and found that with no evidence of extra work hours available to Mother, and Mother’s employer considering her to be a ‘full-time’ employee, Mother was working full time.
Accordingly, the Child Support Magistrate concluded, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, that Mother was not ‘voluntarily underemployed’ based on the evidence provided as to Mother’s employer considering her to be a full-time employee at 32 hours per week.
Child support determinations are made based on a number of factors, and, a parent’s work schedule is just one of those factors. If you have questions about how Minnesota’s child support laws can affect you, consider consulting a family law attorney.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.