May 21, 2013

Should Financial Obligations in Divorce be Determined by a Computer Program?

An important rationale for alternative dispute resolution methods, including collaborative divorce and mediation, is that parents can make better decisions for their family than can a judge who doesn’t know them.  This is true with all issues in divorce or uncoupling, including child support.

Under Minnesota law, child support is set by using an online calculator. It’s very simple; plug in each parent’s income (or potential income if they’re unemployed or underemployed), the number of children, the range of parenting time each parent has, and the costs of daycare, and health and dental insurance for the children, and the calculator tells you how much each parent should pay for child support, contribution to daycare expenses and to health and dental insurance and uninsured health and dental expenses for the children.

However, simplicity shouldn’t be the only consideration. Most people share a goal of having both of them financially secure and able to meet their expenses and care for the children.  The questions then are much more complex than “What does the Minnesota Child Support Calculator say?”  In collaborative divorce, we ask parents to begin by creating budgets for each home, most often with the help of a single neutral financial professional. These budgets serve as a basis for their negotiations about expenses for the children. Parents can take their particular circumstances into consideration. Courts generally approve all reasonable child support provisions negotiated between the parties, particularly if they were each represented by an attorney.

Mary Antonia WilmesABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Antonia Wilmes

Mary Antonia Wilmes’ career has been centered on families. She has been an attorney handling family law cases since 1985, has mediated family cases since 1993, and has handled collaborative cases since 2003. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six. Both Mary’s family and her clients continue to teach her how to best serve family members’ needs. Learn more about Collaborative Law also known as Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce at our MN Institute website and at our international organization’s website.

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