The Minnesota child support law were significantly revised effective 2007.  Under the new child support law, income from both parents is used in calculating the amount of support that is paid.  Income from a new spouse or new significant other is not used in the calculation.

An interesting feature of the new child support law is that each party receives a credit for child support they pay for other children who are not in their custody, and they also receive a credit for other children who life with them, but for whom they are not obligated to pay support.  This change was intended to make the law a bit more “fair.” 

Also, spousal maintenance is now considered income from which child support must be paid.

Another interesting feature of the new child support law is that the amount of child support that one pays (or that one receives) is related to the amount of parenting time.  Under the old law, child custody was determinative of the amount one either paid or received for child support.  Now, labels like “sole physical custody” or “joint physical custody” have much less significance.  Its all about parenting time.

This means that parents need to be very careful when making formal or informal concessions about parenting time.  A parenting might informally agree to 50/50 parenting time, not realizing that this will be come the norm, and that as a result, that parent may not be entitled to receive very much, if any, child support.  I do not think it is callous or crass to talk about parenting time and child support together.  The “best interests” of the child are paramount.  It is very possible that in many cases, it is in the child’s best interests to be with a primary parent who actually receives enough money in child support to be able to provide a reasonable living environment, healthy food and clothing.

If you are thinking about making an informal agreement with your spouse, you could be putting yourself in a position where you might lose tens of thousands of dollars of future child support.  If it is in your child’s best interests that he or she be raised by a primary parent (you) who receives an adequate amount of support, then you need to consider parenting time arrangements very carefully. 

As always, its best to lawyer up sooner rather than later.