By: Senior Associate Attorney, Kendal K O’Keefe

Most parents will tell you that raising children is expensive, and the law in Minnesota provides that both parents have an obligation to provide for their children. But what can you do when your co-parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed?

In this situation, the Court can attribute or impute income to an unemployed or underemployed parent, treating that parent as though he or she is earning income for purposes of calculating child support. The Court can determine the amount of income to impute to an unemployed or underemployed parent in one of three ways. First, the Court can look at a parent’s employment qualifications and his or her recent work history and income and impute income to that parent in an amount comparable to what that parent previously earned, or in an amount that a parent should reasonably be able to earn in his or her field based upon his or her qualifications.

Another way in which the Court can impute income to a parent is by looking at the amount of unemployment compensation or worker’s compensation that the parent may be receiving. If a parent is receiving unemployment or worker’s compensation, the Court can treat the actual amount of benefits a parent is receiving as income to that parent for purposes of calculating child support.

Finally, effective March 1, 2016, in circumstances where a parent is unemployed or underemployed, the Court can impute income to that parent as if that parent were employed working thirty hours per week earning 100 percent of the current federal or state minimum wage (whichever is higher). Currently, Minnesota’s minimum wage is $9.00 per hour, and is scheduled to increase to $9.50 per hour in August 2016. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Taking Minnesota’s higher minimum wage of $9.00 per hour at 30 hours per week, it is presumed that a parent who is unemployed or underemployed has the ability to earn $1,170 per month for the purposes of calculating child support.

You can experiment with the practical implications of imputed income by using the Minnesota Child Support Guidelines Calculator, which can be found on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website:

If you have questions or concerns regarding child support, contact the attorneys at Arnold, Rodman & Kretchmer PLLC today at 952.955.8008 to schedule an initial consultation.