I practice law. I do not defend the law.
I use this mantra all too often with my clients. There is a reasonable assumption that our laws are helpful. That they are fair.
In many cases, neither assumption is accurate.
Take for instance the laws around child support in Minnesota. These are codified under Minnesota Statute §518A.35. Read it. It will make perfect sense.
HOLD IT! I AM 100% KIDDING. If you read it, it will likely make no sense to you at all. It baffles lawyers and judges alike. I would venture to guess that the legislators who wrote that section would struggle to put it into practice, much less explain how it helps families and children.
Minnesota, and many other states for that matter, demystify child support laws by using a “simple” calculator. The child support calculator reminds me a little bit of that graphing calculator my geometry teacher used to torture me in the 9th grade. It looked cool. I had no idea how it took numbers and cranked them into bar graphs in nano-seconds.
Minnesota DHS child support calculator is similar. You plug in numbers that many know off the top of their heads: the salaries of the parties, the number of joint children, the cost of daycare, the cost of health insurance, etc. The calculator cranks out a child support amount as quickly as it takes the browser to download the page. Take a peek at the calculator here.
(A side note – this calculator is open to the public and reasonably easy to use. Be cautious of lawyers who will “figure out” child support for you before slapping you with a heavy bill.)
But where were we?
Where the Minnesota Child Support Calculator gets complicated – and shameful – the application of the factors on which it relies.
The calculator primarily relies on three factors:
The parent with more annual overnights collects money from the non-custodial parent, even if the custodial parent makes more money. Parents with equal parenting time schedules still exchange child support if their incomes are disparate. Children are gracelessly attached to exchanges of currency.
There are many problems with this formula, but here is the one that I find most troublesome:
Parents argue for more parenting time for the WRONG REASONS. In other words, good parents get LESS parenting time as is best for the children. They struggle financially because they are the parent buying the clothes, the food, the school supplies, etc. Bad parents get more time than is best for the children. The courts lean toward 50/50 parenting time arrangements. It becomes financially advantageous for a subpar parent to have more parenting time than less parenting time.
That problem is only the beginning. Do not get me started on the confusing issues that arise when custodial parents are on government benefits.
As I said at the start: I practice law. I do not defend it. The child support guidelines can be profoundly unfair. I am passionate about this issue and the threat it poses to families and the well-being of children. I have the legal knowledge and the skillset to level the playing field.
Martha is a jiu-jitsu-practicing, crochet-rocking mother of two awesome boys and four cuddly pets. She is also the founder of Therres Law Office.
Martha is proud to say that she has experience as both a lawyer and as a client. Whatever you’re going through, she has likely experienced something similar. She will get it.
When you work with Martha, you’re not getting an attorney who will stoke flames to collect more fees from you. She truly wants what’s best for your family.
Negotiating a path to move you forward into your new life is something she’ll handle as if it was her own family. After all, it WAS her own family at one point. She is passionate, ethical, trustworthy, and knows that family law is not just her career. It’s her life force.
We’re here for you whenever you’re ready.
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