Modifying the Financial Obligations of Parents

Court Decisions
After the court has decided how much child support a party should pay, only the court can change or modify the amount of monthly child support. The court will decide whether the child support should be revised or changed when legal documents (a motion and other supporting documents) have been filed with the court and served on the other parent or party and on Anoka County. Anoka County, as the public authority, and any party can bring a motion to modify a support obligation.

A motion for modification can be heard by a child support magistrate in the Expedited Child Support Process (Expro Court) or in district court by a judge. If Anoka County is collecting the child support payments, or there is an open case with the Anoka County Office of Child Support, modifications for child support will be heard in Expro Court. Whether your motion to change child support is heard in Expro Court or in District Court, the law used by the judge or magistrate is the same.

Legal Provisions
Minnesota law provides that a child support order may be changed if the party can show the court that (1) the order is unreasonable or unfair and (2) there is a substantial change in the party's situation.

Specifically, the law provides the following substantial changes:
  • Substantially increased or decreased gross income of a party;
  • Substantially increased or decreased need of a party or the child(ren) that is the subject of these proceedings;
  • Receipt of assistance under the AFDC program;
  • A change in the cost of living for any party as measured by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics;
  • Extraordinary medical expenses of the child not provided for under Minn. Stat. § 518A.41;
  • A change in the availability of appropriate health care coverage or a substantial increase or decrease in health care coverage costs;
  • The addition of work-related or education-related child care expenses of the party or a substantial increase or decrease in existing work-related or education-related child care expenses; or
  • Upon the emancipation of the child, as provided in Minn. Stat. § subdivision 5;
Under Minnesota law, a change in the amount of child support is assumed to be appropriate, unless proven otherwise, if one of the following is true:
  • The new child support payment would be at least 20% or $75 per month higher or lower than the current support order, using the child support guidelines. If the current support order is less than $75, the new child support calculations must be at least 20% per month higher or lower;
  • The medical support provisions of the order are not enforceable;
  • Health coverage ordered is not available to the child through the party that is ordered to carry the health coverage;
  • The existing child support ordered is in the form of a statement of age and not a specific dollar amount;
  • The gross income of a party has decreased by at least 20% through no fault or choice of the party; or
  • The child was living in a foreign country and the calculation of support was based on this information and the child no longer resides in a foreign country or no longer applies.
A child support order is not presumptively modifiable solely because a party becomes responsible for the support of an additional non-joint child that is born after an existing order.

Also, Minnesota law provides that an enactment, amendment, or repeal of law (such as implementing income shares to calculate child support) does not constitute a substantial change in the circumstances for purposes of modifying a child support order.