Minnesota Child Support & Parenting Time Calculations

Minnesota child support is based on the total parenting time

Minnesota uses a parenting time percentage in its child support formula to determine the amount of child support in your divorce case.

Besides income, parenting time totals are a key part of the Minnesota child support formula. Your parenting time directly affects your child support, whether you pay or receive.

Most parenting time totals are estimates (and thus incorrect)

Minnesota attorneys and judges often rely on parenting time estimates only, even if they are incorrect, because counting total hours is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.

Using estimates means your parenting time totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.

How to calculate parenting time instead of relying on estimates

To calculate parenting time, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each hour for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time totals to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now

Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total visitations, and you can see how your parenting time totals change each year due to holidays and other events.

You can also track what actually happens, and show how much parenting time you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.

Fast facts on Minnesota child support

In any divorce, Minnesota family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. The total parenting time factors into the child support formula for both sole and joint custody.

Minnesota sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to scheduled visitations. In Minnesota, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with.

Minnesota shared physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Minnesota law outlines shared custody as any arrangement in which the child has regular and continuing contact with both parents. To qualify for shared physical custody in Minnesota, the non-residential parent must host the children for at least 45 percent of the time annually.   

Minnesota child support formula and parenting time adjustment

Minnesota family courts use formulas that consider both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount.  A parenting time adjustment is given based on the total parenting time each parent is scheduled for.

Sole custody formula: The total income between the two parents is put into the formula and then a basic monthly support is figured by using the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines. Certain deductions are allowed when figuring total income. A parenting time credit is given to the non-residential parent when he or she hosts the children for 10 to 44 percent of the time.

Non-residential parents who qualify receive a 12 percent reduction in their child support. There is no tier in between these totals. The residential parent receives child support from the non-residential parents according to Minnesota law.

Joint custody formula: To qualify for joint custody, the Minnesota family courts ask that both parents host the children from 45 to 50 percent of the total parenting time annually. Non-residential parents who qualify receive a 50 percent reduction in their child support.

The higher earning parent makes child support payments to the lower earning parent.

Examples of sole child custody and Minnesota child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert grosses $4,000 per month, while Mary grosses $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert is the non-residential parent in this sole custody case, and is scheduled to host the children for less than 10 percent of the year. He pays $906 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #2:  Robert is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for more than 10 percent of the time but not quite 45 percent of the time. He pays $797 in child support to Mary.
  • Scenario #3: Mary is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for less than 10 percent of the year. She pays $556 in child support to Robert.
  • Scenario #4: Mary is the non-residential parent and hosts the children for between 10 and 45 percent of the time. She pays $489 in child support to Robert.

In Minnesota sole custody cases, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.

Examples of shared custody formula and Minnesota child support

Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert grosses $4,000 per month, while Mary grosses $2,400 per month. They have two children.

See how the child support amounts change in these examples:

  • Scenario #1: Robert hosts the children for 45 to 50 percent of the time annually, he pays $264 in child support to Mary. This is because he is the higher earner.
  • Scenario #2: If Robert and Mary agreed to a 50/50 split and both earned the same amount, $4,000, there would be no child support paid or received because there is no net difference.

In Minnesota joint physical custody cases, the higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner. This ensures that the children will enjoy the same standard of living between the two households.

Other factors in the Minnesota child support formula

Minnesota's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:

Eligible children: The Minnesota Statute (518.54 Subsection 2) specifies that child support will be paid for all children under age 18, or age 20 if the child still attends a secondary school. Termination of child support occurs at age 20 or upon graduation from secondary school.

Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Minnesota law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.

Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Minnesota family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.

How accurate child support helps your children

Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.

Here are some other reasons why accurate parenting time numbers help you, the other parent and your children:

  • It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
  • It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
  • It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
  • It is compliant with Minnesota law

Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.

Top 5 things to remember about Minnesota child support and overnights

To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Minnesota, remember these 5 things:

  1. The child support amount is determined using guidelines established under state law in the Minnesota. Stat. 518A.26-34. These guidelines are based on the monthly net income of both parents.
  2. Health care expenses and day care costs for children can be deducted from the total income of both parents to arrive at an accurate amount from which to base child support.
  3. The parenting time adjustment occurs at 10 percent and 45 percent, based on the total parenting time the non-residential parent has with the children.
  4. The parenting time adjustments result in a 12 percent or 50 percent reduction of total child support obligation.
  5. If parents with shared physical custody agree to a 50/50 split on parenting time, the higher earning parent makes child support payments to the lower earning parent.

Use Custody X Change software to create a custody schedule that will quickly calculate the total parenting time for the Minnesota child support formula.

As you negotiate what kind of joint custody schedule will best fit your needs, the software will accurately calculate your parenting time percentage.


The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time totals to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Time

The leading parenting time calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your parenting time totals to see if they were estimated incorrectly.

Calculate Your Parenting Time Now